A staggering spike in rural theft numbers has prompted the County of Grande Prairie to grant $330,000 to hire two new officers working out of the Beaverlodge RCMP detachment.

Detachment Commander Sgt. Ashley Browne says from January to March 2019, stats of theft over $5000 were through the roof in the area.

“Our quarter one statistics were at 900 percent of an increase, so that is absolutely huge. For this quarter [April to June], they’ve gone down a bit, so thefts have slowed a bit… but they’re still hugely high”

Browne hopes the $165,000 per enhanced duty officer will help ease tensions felt by rural property owners. He adds that at a recent town hall meeting in Hythe, the reality of the situation certainly hit home.

“Landowners had huge frustration over the number of thefts going on. They were scared to leave their property because things were getting stolen, and were scared to leave their property and come back to find people on their property and were concerned for their own safety.”

However, Browne urges anyone in a rural property to immediately call 911, and not take matters into their own hands.

“I know that it’s frustrating, we are definitely trying to [get the out] message to people that if you find people on your property and you think they’re going to commit a crime, the RCMP are trained to deal with that, so phone 911 and get us out there as soon as you can.”

No timeline has been given as to when the new officers will be in place.