Lethbridge is Canadian city most affected by crime, study finds, but police say it’s safe – Calgary Herald

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Break-and-enters cited as the main reason a study found Lethbridge to be the Canadian city “most affected by crime.”

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Lethbridge is the least safe city in Canada for homeowners and families, according to a new study, but the southern Alberta city’s police service disputes the findings.

Using Canada Crime Index data, Money.ca looked at arson, robbery, impaired driving and burglary offences for Canadian cities and ranked them after combining the number of those four types of crime per 100,000 population.

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The top 10 are all in Ontario and Quebec. Toronto ranked as the safest place to live in Canada, with 286.9 offences per 100,000 people, followed by Quebec City (301 per 100,000) and Ottawa-Gatineau (318.8 per 100,000).

Meanwhile, Money.ca named Lethbridge the Canadian city “most affected by crime,” with 1,190 offences per 100,000 people. Breaking-and-entering offences were a major reason for Lethbridge’s ranking, contributing roughly 75 per cent toward the city’s total.

A Money.ca spokesperson said looking into rates of arson, robbery, burglary and impaired driving “offers insights” into the overall crime rates in Canadian cities and, in particular, crimes that affect homeowners and families.

“For those looking to invest in real estate in Canada, this study offers an interesting look into where may be the most appropriate place to put their money into, and what this, in turn, might mean for the housing market long term,” said the spokesperson in a news release.

But Lethbridge Police Service spokeswoman Kristen Saturley said the Money.ca study paints an incomplete picture of any of the cities it references because it only covers four types of crime and doesn’t provide context to the reasons behind the crime numbers.

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Overall, Lethbridge is a safe place to live, she said.

“We have our share of challenges and we still have a lot of work to do, but the safety of our community is our No. 1 priority,” said Saturley. “We will continue to work with community partners to address crime and social disorder and do everything we can to provide a safe community for all.”

Lethbridge police targets break-and-enters and impaired driving

One of those challenges for Lethbridge is in the area of break-ins, which increased 19 per cent from January-July of 2022 to January-July of 2023. Another is impaired driving, with Lethbridge ranking fifth among Canadian cities, according to the Canada Crime Index data.

To combat crime, the Lethbridge Police Service uses a data and intelligence-driven model to identify higher-crime areas and prolific offenders, and deployment and enforcement strategies addressing specific crime types, such as property crime, as well as other criminal behaviour, said Saturley.

“The identification of prolific offenders also enables a more targeted approach to monitoring them in an effort to help reduce recidivism and ensure they are complying with conditions of a release order or probation. In the event they are found violating their conditions, they are arrested for breaching them,” said Saturley, adding Lethbridge police has a dedicated property crimes unit.

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The police service provides ongoing education and awareness about things the public can do to reduce property crime, such as keeping their doors locked and using motion-sensor lights around the exterior of their property, she said.

“In many cases, property crime is opportunistic and citizens can help reduce their likelihood of being victimized by taking steps to help safeguard their property,” said Saturley.

Addressing impaired driving, Saturley noted the Lethbridge Police Service has a dedicated traffic response unit, which in 2022 apprehended 126 impaired drivers. LPS conducts year-round check stops as well as targeted campaigns at certain times of the year, including the holiday season, when in past years there have been higher numbers of impaired driving, she added.

“Public education and partnerships with organizations such as MADD Lethbridge and Area are also ongoing to continue to raise awareness and provide safety messaging in an effort to reduce incidents,” said Saturley.

More Lethbridge officers are expected to help police the city in the coming years. The service is receiving additional funding in its 2023-26 budget, and for the next three years the LPS plans to hire an additional 10 to 12 police officers per year and host two cadet training classes annually, said Saturley.

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