The RCMP in Alberta is working with local law enforcement officers and crime watch groups as part of a new crime-reduction strategy that it hopes will reduce breaking and entering.
In February, Alberta RCMP launched Project Lock Up to tackle the problem, where repeat hits on the same property make up one third of all break-ins in the province.
"Criminals keep coming back there so there's something about that property that makes it a good target," says Supt. Peter Tewfik, the officer in charge of crime reduction for the RCMP in Alberta.
As part of the project, Tewfik's unit is identifying areas that are hot spots for breaking and entering and then sharing that information with its partners, which include groups such as Alberta Fish and Wildlife, Citizens on Patrol and Alberta Rural Crime Watch.
Armed with victim addresses, and names and photos of known repeat offenders, the groups increase patrols in problem areas.
Victims whose properties have been hit five or more times are visited by the RCMP.
Jennifer Kee is the crime reduction co-ordinator at RCMP headquarters in Edmonton. She travels all over the province assessing repeat victims' properties and giving advice on what they can do prevent another break-in.
She says the most common repeat break-ins occur on rural properties that are unlit, unfenced, without security cameras and have multiple outbuildings, such as sheds or detached garages.
According to Kee, site visits take part of the workload off front-line officers who may have little time for follow-up.
"Doing site visits helps reduce rural crime and it will have a positive effect on all detachments," says Kee.
Project Lock Up is based on two similar initiatives from the United Kingdom that resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in break-ins over three years. Tewfik says he hopes Alberta will have similar results and will do a yearly assessment to gauge progress.
"It's too early to see any numbers but anecdotally I've been hearing really good things."