N.E.T. Update: Reducing car theft in Queen Alexandra

Since initially entering the Queen Alexandra community in October of 2013 we have been eagerly trying to catch ourselves up to speed on everything that is going on in and around the area. It has been impressive to see so many people committed to the well-being of the area and we appreciate the warm welcome we have received.

Initially we were tasked with identifying which of the four indicators (theft from vehicle, theft of vehicle, break and enters and or assaults) should be our initial focus. After looking at Queen Alexandra’s statistics, it became quite obvious that vehicle content theft must be addressed. There were 57 theft from vehicle occurrences reported to the police in Queen Alexandra last year. Depending on your perspective, 57 thefts may not seem like a lot. However, this is 57 people who were victimized, and 57 people whose life needed to be put on hold to deal with the matter and who may no longer feel comfortable and safe in their community. This is also 137% more ‘thefts from vehicles’ when comparing 2013 to 2012; a substantial increase. Further consequences of a high incidence of property crimes can be especially concerning, because often these crimes are a symptom of larger issues like weakening social networks. This can spiral into social disorganization contribute to isolation and alienation among in which individuals and community members become isolated and alienated from one another.

We have been researching the nature of these occurrences (where were vehicles located, what was stolen, the time of day, the make of vehicle, etc.), which will allow our efforts to target the specific problem. We have begun implementing an action plan that includes a wide variety of strategies. In addition to creating open lines of communication with community members and encouraging social connections, we will be focusing on commonly targeted parking areas. The first will be apartment parking lots. We have begun conversations with apartment owners and are offering recommendations to make their parking lots safer. After this we will be focusing on residential street and alley parking, so expect to see us on your block soon. Although we will be reinforcing old crime prevention messages, we are also investigating new ways of conveying information that will resonate with people and impact behaviour. There have also been problems in commercial parking lots, so we are in negotiations to pilot a program in that enhances the safety of public parking structures and the surrounding areas. This program has shown an amazing statistical reduction in the number of vehicle- related crimes, so we are confident this approach can be successful in this community.

A reduction in the number of theft from vehicles in Queen Alexandra is important. It will be an indicator of our success, however technically this goal is minor in comparison to our real intention. Ultimately we want to break down barriers with residents because we want to ensure they feel safe in their community. Stakeholders and community residents have worked hard to make Queen Alexandra the wonderful place it is, and we want people to feel comfortable enjoying all it has to offer.

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About the Author
Connie Marciniuk
Connie Marciniuk is a Community Capacity Builder with the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team. These teams have played an integral role in community policing and crime prevention in Edmonton for the past 8 years and are the result of a four way partnership with the City, EPS, The Family Centre and the United Way.
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