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Muggings on the rise

An alarming rise in number of personal robberies this year in Edmonton has made the city’s top cop ask for public help.

An alarming rise in number of personal robberies this year in Edmonton has made the city’s top cop ask for public help.

Personal robberies have shot up as high as 31 per cent in 2009 so far, according to police figures, and police Chief Mike Boyd says people must do more to protect themselves.

“We want to stop it now, we want to turn this around, and we are looking for the public’s help,” said Boyd. “We need to work together to make our city safer.”

Boyd said people are leaving themselves vulnerable at night by exposing electronics such as iPods and smart phones in robbery “hotspots” such as bus terminals or public roadways.

And when they get robbed, people don’t often call police right away for help, said Staff Sgt. Steven Chwok, who adds that it hampers city cops in finding the suspects.

Boyd said the suspects would sometimes swarm their victims in those hotspots, where police will now show a bigger presence with more uniformed and plain-clothed officers in those areas.

“This is about maintaining the quality of life in out city,” said Boyd, who also vowed to use the police service’s helicopter to clamp down on the problem.

Edmonton police have dealt with 118 robberies so far this year, including 44 within the downtown core.

In some instances, victims would be swarmed by a number of suspects and knives or guns were used in roughly a third of all of the city’s robberies this year.

Boyd said police will take advantage of a section in the criminal code by providing crown prosecutors with “threat assessments” of suspects once they are arrested so the courts have “all the information” before deciding whether or not they should be released.

“The courts (are designed) to protect society,” he said. “We are going to provide the information from our investigations to enable the courts to do just that.”

 
 
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