Crime is returning to rural Saskatchewan in full force after a pandemic-related lull, municipality leaders were told by the RCMP on Thursday.

While speaking to the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention on Thursday, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said statistics are showing a return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Property crime is on top of the RCMP’s radar when it comes to rural communities and the state of the economy might have something to do with it. 

“With the price of fuel, it’s becoming a hot commodity for thefts,” said Blackmore. 

“We’ve had a report of 61 thefts from fuel tanks and from jerry cans, and additional 12 thefts from actual farm equipment. So a significant number.”

Local communities have taken the matter into their own hands and formed rural crime watch groups. 

According to Edenwold, Saskatchewan councillor Tim Brodt, his community has “quite a big network” of volunteers dedicated to preventing crime. 

SARM President Ray Orb also endorsed the idea, saying that more rural communities need to get onto crime watch programs. 

“We’re working together with the RCMP to try and invigorate the rural crime watch program,” said Orb. 

“No one knows the farms better than the local people.” 

Last year, SARM and the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association banded together to form the Saskatchewan Rural Crime Watch Association. 

With help from the RCMP the group hopes to cut down police response time and help coordinate law enforcement activity. 

Additionally, the Saskatchewan government introduced several laws in 2021 to help tackle property crime, including the Pawned Property Amendment Act to prevent thieves from selling stolen goods.