Developer says app on track to reduce rural crime

Bianca BhartiDaily Herald

The developer of a new app hopes his technology can help cut down on rural crime.

BeeSecure, a new web app that tracks people’s assets, was the winner of the rural crime innovation challenge, a collaboration between Innovation Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Corrections and Policing.

With the company’s hardware, property owners place tracking devices in whatever they want to monitor and protect. If it’s on the move, they receive a text-message alert. The user can then go online on either their phone or computer and track the trail.

“You can tag events as suspicious — you can even attach photos,” said Jeff Shirley, founder and CEO of BeeSecure. “It’s not mandatory, but you can opt in to share your data with law enforcement.”

Shirley said even if people choose not to involve the police in certain incidents, the app will be able to collect aggregate data on crime hotspots to assist enforcement in creating preventative strategies.

The app allows you to add contacts to your profile, who will also be notified when one of the devices is triggered.

Shirley said there are many purposes for the tracking devices; people can use them in their cabins up north. If you’re away from the cottage, your contacts in the region can also be notified and alert police to the potential threat.

BeeSecure was created with rural residents in mind, he said. Opting for a web app instead of a native app, it allows for compatibility across devices — smart or not. The text-message alerts account for limited data up north, too.

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It can be helpful in recovering property, as sometimes people in rural areas don’t bother to report theft or damage to insurance companies, according to Nick Cornea, a grain farmer in the rural municipality of Redburn.

“I know people, where if their deductible is five to ten thousand dollars — and as their premiums go up — it doesn’t make sense to claim something unless it worth over 25 thousand dollars.”

If gas or some tools are stolen, it’s not worth putting in a claim, he said.

In response to the growing issue and having his truck stolen in 2015, Cornea created the Facebook group Farmers Against Rural Crime to report incidents and host discussion on the topic.

He thinks the app can help curb crime but only if it’s more affordable.

“We spend a lot of money as it is on insurance. If it can lower insurance rates, that’d be great”

Each package starts at $199.99 and the monthly subscription fee ranges from $4.99 to $15.99 with an additional fee of $6.99 per additional tracker.

Reeve of Buckland, Don Fyrk, is doubtful. “Look at all these stolen cars, stolen vehicles. They’re supposed to be theft-proof with these modern keys and they’re still being stolen,” he said.

“All the security in the world isn’t going to stop them.”

Fyrk worries that the app might enable people to take matters into their own hands.

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