June 14th, 2024

One neighbourhood is fighting back against crime


By Lethbridge Herald on February 26, 2022.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

I’ve written a lot about crime in our westside neighbourhood and the frustrations we residents have with it.

As you may recall, last fall I wrote that a security camera had been stolen from my driveway fence with the masked thief making a mocking gesture before he removed it. That same person also entered my yard and stole a motion detector light I had pointing at the edge of the alley where for years vehicles have idled late at night and where I’ve seen transactions being made between drivers and backpack-carrying individuals on bicycles.

Our whole block has been on edge for years about the activity which we only began talking to the police about in the last 24 months. Part of the reason was nobody wanted to believe we had drug dealers and other criminals in our midst, another was we were afraid to get involved because of possible retribution. We’ve long felt we’re under siege, which I know residents in other neighbours can relate to.

But as the problems escalated, and neighbours began to vent frustrations with each other, we did start getting involved. Multiple people have contacted the police and the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods branch of the Alberta sheriff’s department about the activity of individuals at a couple of dwellings, which are well known to law enforcement. 

I personally know police are familiar with them because I’ve seen LPS at these residences and I’ve voiced my concerns to both LPS and SCAN. After a licence plate was stolen in broad daylight off a vehicle in our driveway last summer, I got angry and decided it was time to quit being victimized.

Along with others, I’ve photographed licence plate numbers of vehicles that clearly don’t belong in the area, and I’ve reported suspicious vehicles to the police because I’m sick of what’s happened to our area. Several of us have done this and will continue to do it for the safety of our homes and our neighbours’.

One person told me he actually confronted the residents of a home across our alley because he has kids and was tired of all the activity going on. 

He said he saw meth being smoked in broad daylight in the back of one side of that multi-family housing unit and told police they needed to deal with it or he would. Another neighbour told me that same dwelling needed a drive-through window because of all the visitors coming and going at night. One person actually confronted a tenant there out of frustration.

A neighbour even caught a person coming from a nearby house to look into his vehicle just days after it was broken into and my new security camera on multiple occasions has captured images of guys on bicycles or foot checking my truck as they walk or ride on bicycles past late at night, even in subzero temperatures. One bicycle with a distinctive orange frame is well known in our area given how often it has been seen going down alleys and on sidewalks, its rider being among those I’ve seen checking my truck’s passenger door.

It’s hard to sleep because our neighbourhood has been overrun with crime in recent years. Everyone is frustrated and everyone is angry. That activity is why I believe the numerous dogs in our area are constantly barking at different times of night on separate blocks. They know what’s going on before we do.

But recently, we’ve all noticed a change. After one landlord evicted a tenant of a nearby home and SCAN told me that a “known criminal” who was recently involved in a major drug bust was no longer living in a different residence, the street activity has decreased substantially.

Fewer backpack people on bicycles are riding down the street and into alleys at night, fewer strange vehicles are parking along fences idling for lengthy periods of time in the dark. 

Fewer vehicles are parked on weekends and at other times of day beside a nearby elementary school although recently an eagle-eyed neighbour, while checking mail, alerted police to a black wagon with a driver slumped over the wheel. 

Before the police and EMS could arrive, the vehicle left with two people who came out of a nearby home. The vehicle, the neighbour told me, apparently belonged to an elderly man who he said definitely wasn’t driving. 

Last weekend, that same neighbour showed me photos of police surrounding a beat-up pickup parked almost in that same spot early on a school morning as parents were dropping off their kids. 

A stolen truck was recently discovered by police on the block, as well, a truck that everybody knew was out of place and which could be heard loudly idling parked on a side street in the middle of night.

So we still have some problems but the frequency is down substantially from just a few weeks ago. I’d like to think our neighbourhood residents are partly responsible for that because we have decided to stand up with each other against crime. We’ve all had enough and we’re fighting back by standing up for each other.

We’re starting to take back our block. And it looks like we are winning the battle against crime. For now.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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