The Board of Police Commissioners discussed rising gas prices, property theft, vehicle maintenance costs and poor driving during its recent meeting.
While hikes in gas prices may lead to more “Gas and Dash” thefts, police say such incidents can be completely prevented by forcing customers to pay before filling up.
During a recent police commissioners meeting, Commissioner Mary Lee Booth reported that property thefts of less than $5,000 increased year-over-year from 171 incidents between January and April to 207. He wondered whether it was because of shoplifting or whether the motorists were stealing petrol.
“We anticipate that this (fuel theft) will increase. We are hearing from other jurisdictions that they are seeing a significant increase in fuel thefts,” said Police Chief Rick Bourassa. “We haven’t seen it here yet. But sometimes, when we’re presenting (monthly statistical quotes), our data lags a bit….
“We expect this to increase because the cost has become so high.”
Moose Jaw is yet to experience an increase in fuel theft, but the RCMP is seeing a spike in rural areas, Sup said. Devon Oleyniuk. However, with fuel costs likely to be higher, “it would be foolish not to expect” is the same thing here.
Deputy Chief Rick Johns said gas theft can be completely prevented by having service station institutions pre-pay before drivers fill up. Many service stations have already changed this approach and have seen success in reducing gas theft.
“It’s a balancing act because some service stations still want to offer the service where they (vehicles) fill up while customers make purchases in a store,” he said.
Bourassa said the cost of gasoline affected the police service’s operating budget as the organization budgeted $1.25 a liter this year, but is now paying around $2 a liter. The police service will keep a close watch on him, although not much can be done about it.
“We have to keep things going,” he said.
Finance Officer Lisa Renwick agreed with the chief’s comments, pointing out that gas costs are high because police cruisers are on patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bourassa said vehicle maintenance costs are also rising due to supply chain issues and difficulty finding parts. The police service will monitor that situation and try to predict what 2023 might look like when making next year’s budget.
“There is a lot of turmoil right now. It will be difficult for us to predict with great accuracy,” he said.
For 2022 the police service had budgeted $220,000 for vehicle maintenance. As of April, it had spent $98,680.42 on vehicle maintenance.
In early April, the Moose Jaw Police Service, in collaboration with SGI and MADD Canada, participated in the Report Impaired Driving (RID) campaign, in which signs posted around the community were posted whenever police caught bad motorists. Huh.
During the Police Board meeting, Commission Mary Lee Booth mentioned how she was seeing more signs around the community.
“I really appreciate it because it makes you stop and go, ‘Oh!,'” she said.
“We don’t really expect those signs to be put up because we really hope there aren’t bad drivers, but we know there are, and so we’ll see more of those signs soon,” Bourassa said. Bad driving can be caused by alcohol or drugs.
He said that effective traffic safety focuses on four elements – education, enforcement, engineering and evaluation – as a holistic way of dealing with the situation.
Commissioner Doug Blank said that in Norway, when police arrest people for poor driving, not only does the driver lose his license, but so do everyone in the vehicle. He thought such a move here would cut down on bad driving.
“There are some very interesting ways of managing traffic in different places,” replied Baurasa, noting that in Norway, criminals also pay fines based on a standard fine based on their income. “(So), if you’re speeding on the highway in your Lamborghini, you could be fined $200,000.”
The next meeting of police commissioners is on Thursday, June 9.