Investigators from the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs worked with Lethbridge Police to gather evidence necessary for a court order to close a property at 235 15 Street N for 90 days.
The court order took effect at noon Feb. 13, and work crews immediately began boarding up the house, changing the locks and putting a fence around the property. These measures are aimed at breaking a cycle of criminal activity at the property. Any occupants must leave the premises for the 90-day closure period.
“The collaboration between SCAN and concerned Albertans who report suspicious properties is a valuable tool in keeping our communities secure. I commend investigators for their diligent efforts to tackle crime and keep our communities safe.”
The SCAN investigation began in July 2018, in response to complaints from the community. SCAN investigators confirmed drug activity and partnered with Lethbridge police to address the issues.
On Aug. 2, 2018, Lethbridge police executed a search warrant at the property and seized drugs and weapons. SCAN issued a warning letter to the owner, who does not live at the property.
Drug activity at the property continued, prompting investigators to gather more evidence to support a Community Safety Order application in court.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Lethbridge police executed a second search warrant at the property, resulting in criminal charges against several people. Police found drugs, stolen identification and stolen property.
Following negotiations with the property owner, SCAN obtained a Community Safety Order from the Court of Queen’s Bench on Feb. 5, 2019. The owner agreed to the 90-day closure, which ends on May 13, 2019.
The Community Safety Order remains in effect for one year, giving SCAN the authority to monitor the property and enforce conditions until Feb. 5, 2020.
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act gives sheriffs the option of targeting problem properties through civil enforcement.
Since its inception in 2008, Alberta’s SCAN unit has investigated nearly 5,000 problem properties across the province and has issued more than 70 Community Safety Orders. The majority of complaints are resolved informally, with no need for legal action, by working with property owners to address issues.