In partnership with the City of North Battleford, North Battleford Fire Department and a number of local businesses, Battleford RCMP has launched three community safety initiatives to help communities address and prevent local crime.
These three initiatives include preventing catalytic convertor theft with the “You Etch. We Catch It” program; a safe space for people to meet up to buy/sell/trade goods called the “Safe Internet Exchange Zone”; and a daily routine for protecting your home from property crime called the “9 p.m. Routine”.
“Our priority is the safety and security of the people we serve,” said Sergeant Adam Buckingham of the North Battleford RCMP. “These community safety initiatives supplement the everyday police work that is being done to keep our communities safe. We very much appreciate the partnership with the City, other local emergency services and local businesses on these initiatives. We all play an important role in the safety and wellness of our community and additional measures – programs like we’re introducing – just add another layer of security.”
“You Etch It. We Catch It” – Preventing catalytic converter thefts
Police hope that with the launch of the new theft prevention program, it will be harder for thieves to sell stolen catalytic convertors.
Through the program, participating local businesses can engrave the last 8 digits of a vehicle’s identification number (VIN) onto its catalytic converter for free when it gets serviced.
According to RCMP, on occasion, officers have caught suspects with catalytic converters in their possession. However, due to a lack of identifying information, they were unable to prove the converters were stolen. This lack of identifying information on the converters also meant the RCMP were unable to return them to their rightful owners.
“With the VIN etched onto the catalytic converter, it greatly increases the likelihood that criminals committing these crimes can be held accountable for their actions and the converters can be returned to where they belong,” said a media release from Sask. RCMP.
Similar programs have also been put in place by both Kindersley and Warman RCMP.
Catalytic convertor theft continues to be an issue across the province. So far in 2022, Sask. RCMP has received 174 reports of catalytic converter thefts in RCMP jurisdiction, compared to 135 in the same time period in 2021.
The North Battleford area has seen 39 catalytic converter thefts in 2022, or 22 per cent of all catalytic converter thefts reported to Sask. RCMP.
Most of the thefts in the City of North Battleford have been from business locations, but police report that there have also been thefts from vehicles parked on streets and in parking lots.
“It takes only a couple of minutes to remove a catalytic converter and virtually all vehicle types are potential targets,” said the media release.
RCMP recommend to park vehicles inside a locked garage or in a well-lit area to deter thefts whenever possible.
Current partnering businesses who are offering VIN etching services in North Battleford include:
• Bridges Chevrolet Buick GMC
• Minute Muffler
• Valley Ford Sales
• C&C Auto
• Four K Auto Service
Any other businesses who want to participate can contact the Battleford RCMP Detachment and any member of the public who wishes to have their catalytic convertor etched may contact a participating business.
Safe Internet Exchange Zone – Buy and sell safely
Anyone who is buying, selling or trading items online in the Battlefords area now has a safe, designated location to meet, thanks to the introduction of the Safe Internet Exchange Zone Program.
The designated safe area is the first of its kind in North Battleford. Similar programs have been put in place by Saskatoon Police Service, Prince Albert Police Service and other police services across Canada.
The Safe Internet Exchange Zone is situated in the parking lot of the North Battleford Fire Department, located at 902 104 Street, North Battleford. The zone, which is monitored 24/7 by video surveillance, has two designated parking spaces that are reserved for these exchanges.
“We know online buy/sell/swaps are very popular. We want to help the people in our community to stay safe by providing a public, well-monitored area for transactions to occur,” said Buckingham. “This initiative is another way we’re helping to keep our communities safe when it comes to online exchanges.”
The Safe Internet Exchange Zone will be available for residents to use at any time of the day; however, Battleford RCMP encourages residents to visit during the daytime.
Police have suggested some other tips for buying and selling items online:
• Don’t meet alone. If possible, bring a friend or a family member or tell someone where you are going.
• If you are unable to meet at the Safe Internet Exchange Zone, please consider completing your transaction in well-lit, public locations.
• Don’t give out personal information such as banking details or your home address.
• Don’t bring large quantities of cash when meeting.
• Be cautious when buying/selling high value items.
• If someone isn’t willing to meet at the Safe Internet Exchange Zone, there is a chance it isn’t a legitimate transaction.
Introducing the 9 p.m. Routine
The 9 p.m. Routine is a movement that is supported by police services and communities across the world. Residents are encouraged to follow a nightly routine to ensure their property is locked up and safe.
According to RCMP, a large percentage of property crime is opportunistic in nature. Whenever possible, police urge community members to take steps to make their property less appealing to potential thieves.
Practices in the 9 p.m. Routine include:
• Ensuring your home and vehicle doors and windows are shut and locked – the idea is to do this at a designated time every night to form a habit.
• Securing your sheds and outbuildings.
• Putting away items that could tempt thief or vandalism, including fuel or large tools.
• Removing spare keys, garage door openers, electronics and other valuables from vehicles.
• Enabling a home security system if you have one.
“Anyone can participate in the 9 p.m. Routine by adopting these safety steps into your daily lives, you can better protect yourself, your family and property by doing a few simple things every day,” Buckingham said. “Doing them at the same time helps to form a habit. Checking those windows, doors, and so on every night should become second nature.”
Residents are asked to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods and report it to local police immediately. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com.