She says while the current downturn in the economy is cited as the reason for theft in the area, much of the crime can be attributed to gangs and/or drug addicts trying to finance their habits.
“We have to recognize too that gangs are getting stronger and are building in Alberta,” Schlichenmayer says. “We want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, but it is.”
She notes one of the “really big busts” in Red Deer recently involved “one of the really violent gangs.”
“So they are set up and established,” she says.
Schlichenmayer says drug addicts trying to obtain money for their habits are a big factor in crime, because feeding those habits can be so expensive.
“It’s more than they’re going to earn, so they’re going to have to get it from somewhere, right? Because your addiction is going to drive (your behaviour),” she says.
“And I don’t think we can understand how bad it is because we can’t understand how bad an addiction is until you’ve got it.”
Schlichenmayer says drugs like fentanyl, which are a problem in other areas of the province will no doubt become a problem in Olds and area.
“I don’t know if it’s very prevalent yet, but chances are it’s going to get here. We’re not immune to that stuff anymore,” she says.
Homelessness can be linked to crime as well, Schlichenmayer warns.
She cites a situation in Red Deer in which homeless people were moved from a treed area and simply migrated to a nearby rural area.
“So you’re just displacing – you’re just moving them around, you’re not fixing (the problem),” she says.
“I don’t think we can understand how bad it is because we can’t understand how bad an addiction is until you’ve got it.”JUDY SCHLICHENMAYERSECRETARY-TREASURER OLDS AND DISTRICT RURAL CRIME WATCH ASSOCIATION