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Bait mail and a Molotov cocktail: updates from St. Albert RCMP

The latest St. Albert RCMP performance plan report reveals police tactics to catch mail and vehicle thieves and details an incident involving a Molotov cocktail

A criminal offender living in St. Albert had a Molotov cocktail thrown at their house last December, according to a St. Albert RCMP detachment performance plan report.

It’s one of many updates about the goings-on of city police — specifically the Crime Reduction Unit and forces dedicated to vulnerable communities, mental health and domestic violence and assaults.

RCMP said the Molotov cocktail incident is an ongoing investigation, and they couldn’t comment.

But the report reveals that RCMP learned of the incident while doing a compliance check on the offender’s home and that the incident had gone unreported until RCMP paid a visit.

The report also details a “bait mail” operation in which RCMP partnered with Canada Post to entice would-be thieves into stealing mail outfitted with tracking devices. Police placed the bait mail in community mailboxes in high-theft areas around the city. However, the operation failed to catch anyone.

“We had two occurrences where the bait mail was stolen, both of which were deemed accidental,” said Cpl. Andrew Skinner in an email.  In one case, a resident took the mail from a parcel box when the key to the box was mistakenly kept in rotation, and in another, a postal worker, noticing that the package had been sitting in the mailbox for a long time, took it back to the Canada Post warehouse.

All told the bait mail only lasted two months in St. Albert (last June and July), before Canada Post took it back due to a decline in thefts.

It’s “difficult to say with certainty” why mail thefts declined, Cpl. Skinner said. It’s “possible that the person(s) responsible have left our area or have been arrested on other matters,” he said. “I understand Canada Post is transitioning to a new mailbox that is much more difficult to tamper with and access.”

RCMP also borrowed a “bait truck” from Edmonton police last summer. During its roughly three-month stint on St. Albert streets, the truck was broken into only once. The suspects failed to start the truck.

“Similar to my theory around mail thefts, vehicle thefts seem to come in waves,” Skinner said. “These waves are likely tied to a prolific offender(s) and many of these offenders move in and out of communities to avoid detection.”

In response to a wave of Edmonton vape store break-ins, St. Albert RCMP reached out to local shops to inform them of the increase, Skinner said.

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