Dozens of arrests from Project Street Sweeper

By Geoff Smith (@smithco on Twitter) - Dori Modney
July 14, 2017 - 7:44am Updated: July 14, 2017 - 2:21pm

LETHBRIDGE --  An operation targeting chronic offenders has resulted in dozens of arrests and more than $400,000 in recovered property.

Lethbridge Police Staff Sergeant Jason Walper explained that the crime analysis section noticed a large increase in property-related crime in the city and surrounding area over the first part of the year.

The statistics prompted the priority crimes unit and Lethbridge ALERT to combine teams and focus on chronic property criminals in the surround area, as it is known that a good portion of this type of crime is rooted in the drug trade, with drug addicts needing money to pay for their drugs, and at a higher end, vehicle and heavy machinery thefts are associated with organized crime.

The resulting campaign, dubbed Operation Street Sweeper, was conducted between May and last week.  It resulted in the arrest of 45 people on a total of 230 criminal charges.

Among the property recovered were two dozen stolen vehicles. Police also recovered nine guns and seized $13,520 worth of drugs. The investigation led to 68 cases being cleared, and 23 warrants executed.

It would be naive to think that this project would put a stop to property crime, but Walper says the fact that police made so many arrests on active criminals in the area will put a dent in property related crime coming into the summer months.

Walper notes it is no surprise that property crime increases in the summer with warmer weather. For that reason, he reminds everyone to take extra precautions as most often it is a crime of convenience

``Locking your cars, don`t leave valuable property in your vehicles. When you`re at home, keep your doors locked, keep your garage doors closed - even though they do get awfully hot sometimes in the summer months.  If you`re in your backyard working, keep your front doors locked because you don`t know who may be coming in your front door when you`re not around.``

As for ``street checks`` being used to curtail this type of criminal activity, Walper noted that the crime analysis section takes in a variety of information, such as the number of occurrences that come in, victim statements, a review of street checks that provide key information that helps further investigations and provides leads in a case.

``Overall, it takes a lot to conclude an investigation. Not one piece of information is going to solve the crime - it takes a lot of different pieces to fall together, and one of those pieces may well involve a street check, combined with a victim statement, a neighbourhood canvass, an arrest on a different file, confidential information provided by an informant and, of course, good old-fashioned police work and surveillance -- all those together lead to arrests.

Walper says there will likely be more of these types of operations involving, united efforts by police, RCMP and ALERT.

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