Final steps underway to establish crime watch in RM of St. Peter

RM OF ST. PETER — Residents from the RM of St. Peter are in the end stages of organizing a crime watch.

The effort was started by Loriann Wuchner, the now president of the newly formed RM 369 Rural Crime Watch Association.

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Rural crime watch members are volunteers who serve as the “eyes and ears” of their communities. They are intended to contact the police to report suspicious persons and vehicles, but not to directly interfere or approach.

Wuchner attended a meeting of the RM of Humboldt’s Rural Crime Watch 370, which inspired her to form one back home.

“They had started a group last year and I thought it was just such a great idea because in our area there had been so much crime, or there had been a lot more crime than in previous years,” Wuchner said. “Things gone missing, random people in yards, and there had been such an increase in crime in our RM that I just thought this might really help.”

She then made a post on Facebook asking for volunteers.

“Now we’re working on our website, we’re working on information packages, we’re working with vendors of security systems to see what we can do as a group in our community to make things a little bit better,” Wuchner said.

She found the local detachment of the RCMP largely supportive of the idea.

“If you have a whole community that is the ears and eyes of the RCMP, which is what our group is basically. We’re not vigilantes, we’re not out chasing people – we’re the ears and eyes of the RCMP.”

There are currently seven executives for the Rural Crime Watch, plus volunteers from throughout the community. Their Facebook group currently has 241 members.

Despite the large Facebook group, the members are planning to communicate on the job through a WhatsApp group that they can join if they live in the RM. To join, they have to go to their nearest RCMP station and get a criminal record check done.

The newly created executive reviews any application with their RCMP liaison, Cst. Geoff Applegate, before adding people to the WhatsApp group.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make people in our RM… safer,” Wuchner said. “To be vigilant, and be diligent, because a rural crime watch only works when everybody is involved – when our community is involved. So if a person sees something suspicious then they can report it to our WhatsApp group.”

Applegate will then get a notification if something is reported.

“Hopefully this week coming up, we’re going to be meeting with our RCMP liaison to complete our membership packages,” Wuchner said.

“I’m not sure if it will happen this week or next week, we’re hoping to have a meeting just to talk about the frequently asked questions, like, ‘What happens if I report something?’”

Wuchner hopes to have the group operational before harvest starts.

“Of course that’s when a lot of criminal activity has happened in the past, because vehicles are left in the field for combining, swathing, holding grain,” she said. “So we’re hoping to have information packages ready before harvest this year.”

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