Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced funding Friday afternoon to combat theft and property crime in Steinbach and area.

The Manitoba government is providing $20,500 through the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund to the Steinbach RCMP detachment and $17,500 to the Manitoba East District Crime Reduction Enforcement Support Team (CREST). 

Since its inception in 2009, the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund has distributed more than $20 million back to communities throughout the province. The program seizes and liquidates criminal assets, and redirects funding to projects and initiatives designed to protect Manitobans and enhance public safety. 

Goertzen says the funding in Steinbach will be used to purchase surveillance equipment, including digital and thermal imaging cameras, which will not only act as a deterrent to reduce property crime rates in the region but also enhance the department's ability to identify suspects and prosecute them.

"Basically, we'll be using it to purchase equipment that will aid the officers in their investigations," says Steinbach RCMP Sergeant Joanne Ryll. "Such as night vision."

"Our government is committed to reducing crime rates, promoting safer communities and supporting victims of crime," says Goertzen. "We are proud to support the Steinbach and East District RCMP's efforts to reduce property crime and make their communities safer for business owners, property owners and everyday Manitobans who are effected by theft and attempted thefts."

According to Goertzen, this may be the first time that Steinbach has received funding through this program. 

"I want to send out a thank you to the province for allowing us to have this funding," says Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk. "It means a lot to us because it's going to give our members tools to effectively fight crime in our community and come to a good conclusion quickly, probably faster in many, many cases."

He adds crime prevention is a priority of City Council. 

CREST focuses on intelligence-based investigations into drugs, property crime and serious, prolific offenders within rural communities. There are currently three CREST teams in the province: one in the east, one in the west and one in northern Manitoba. Criminal property forfeiture funding will go to the Manitoba East District CREST area to support new equipment purchases to continue proactive policing measures that target property crimes.

"We're thankful to the province for the continuing support of the RCMP as we work tirelessly to keep Manitobans safe," says Chief Superintendent Rob Hill, acting commanding officer, Manitoba RCMP. "Today's funding will be beneficial in our communities in so many ways including significantly assisting officers in investigating property crime."