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Alta. community launches rural crime prevention pilot

Alta. community launches rural crime prevention pilot

Grande Prairie residents can use the Lightcatch app to report rural crimes

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A rural Alberta community is testing using an app to have its residents report instances of rural crime.

The County of Grande Prairie and Beaverlodge District Crime Watch launched a pilot project with the Lightcatch mobile app.

Grande Prairie Council approved $50,000 in funding in 2020 for the pilot to take place and will receive quarterly updates on its progress.

Users can report rural crime in their areas using the app by sending photos, videos and descriptions.

Once the crime is uploaded to the app, users in the area who downloaded the app can receive notifications of a situation in progress.

Users will also receive a notification to call the police.

Lightcatch helps alert other community members of suspicious activity while authorities arrive, said Leanne Van Wagner, president of Beaverlodge District Rural Crime Watch.

“When you normally call 911 or the RCMP, there’s no video, audio and there’s just the reporting,” she told Everything GP. “When people can see a visual of a red truck or a blue quad that means quite a bit, there’s identification in just having a picture sometimes.”

Lightcatch has helped communities thwart rural crime.

Between Nov. 2020 and March 2021, “as much as 86 per cent of all theft alerts have positive outcomes” in the eight communities using Lightcatch, the app’s website says.

Crime is a challenge in rural communities.

The police-reported crime rate in rural Alberta was 10,964 per 100,000 people in 2017, a Statistics Canada crime report said in May 2019. That number is up from 10,860 in 2016.

Following consultations in 2019 with members of rural Alberta, the provincial government has introduced two bills into the legislature aimed at preventing rural crime.

In November 2019, the government tabled the Trespass Statutes Act to strengthen protections for property owners and ensure trespassers face proper consequences.

And in June 2020 the government introduced the Corrections Amendment Act to create the Alberta Parole Board to have a fairer, faster and more responsive justice system.

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