Written by: Jesse Hawiuk – Business Development Manager at Eagle Builders

Beep…Beep…Beep. “Ugh, already?” This is the moment I’ve been dreading all weekend. 6:00 am Monday morning, not my forte! “Perhaps 10 more minutes won’t hurt.” I mumble to myself, as I search for the snooze button. “Nah, with my recent driving record, I can’t risk any more speeding tickets, I better get up.”

Stumbling to the shower like a mangy old cat, I can’t help but notice the headline notification on my phone. “Alberta Village Bank Closes Indefinitely After Failed Safe Heist.” Ok, what? I gotta read this.

Standing there cold and waiting for the water to heat up. I start reading about Czar, Alberta, and how two bums (PG choice of words) used a truck to quite literally rip the safe out of a building. “Oh man, when is this nonsense going to stop?” I ponder as I enter the scorching heavenly downpour.

In case you’ve been residing deep in the Rocky Mountains with no access to civilization, you’re probably aware of the considerable amount of rural crime in Western Canada. News of ATMs and their jarring journey through convenience store walls, is something of a norm. Like a Viking battering ram penetrating a cardboard house, criminals have found it appealing to steal trucks and hulk smash them through buildings, granting access to the cash holding devices. I’ve seen destruction before, but the aftermath of these buildings is something comparable to an angry Bodacious in glass art gallery.

It’s not surprising that this unfortunate uptrend is taking its toll on people. The Czar bank tellers have lost their jobs. Convenience store owners are constantly repairing their buildings. Insurance rates are skyrocketing, people feel less safe. One could argue that this isn’t the same Western Canada we knew 20 years ago. The days of leaving your keys in your half ton chevy and not having a front door lock are long gone…

So, what do we do? Do we just accept this?

As I stepped out of the shower, franticly looking for a towel. I realized that the possible solution was right in front of my nose this whole time…. Maybe the building becomes its own vaulted security system. Over the last couple of years, we have rigorously tested our panels to see how they hold up in extreme conditions. We have tested them against elephant guns and armour piercing bullets; we have crashed cars into them at 60 kilometers per hour and lit them on fire for over 4-hours. Nothing has ever gotten through this envelope system.

I am not claiming that precast concrete is impenetrable because, with enough time and extremely loud industrial tools, you can get through anything. However, the days of a quick smash and grab would be forever eliminated. Trust me when I say that you do not want to be on the business end of a precast wall smash. The punishment on your body will forever outweigh the cash reward; I promise you that.

One could argue… “Jesse, there are penetrations through these buildings, they can get in through the window or door,” and that is a valid point. But let me ask you this, have you ever tried to lift an ATM out of a building? Neither have I. From a quick google search, you would be looking at lifting a minimum of a few hundred pounds so unless it’s 1987 and you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’ll need a couple burley buddies.

“Ok, but in theory, if they can still get the ATM or safe out of the building, what’s the point of having a concrete fortress?” Great point! Let me answer that with another question. When you’re barbecuing a steak, do you drive to the field, wrangle up a steer, take it to the butcher then get your meat slab. Or do you take the easy route and get a T-bone from your local grocery store? The majority take the latter…

There are pros and cons to every option and I’m not saying precast concrete is going to end all crime. However, strengthening our building envelopes could be a real solution to discourage criminals from robbing vulnerable business in rural communities. If certain buildings are susceptible to criminal activity, perhaps strengthening the defense is a strategic move that will reap long term benefits.

As Christie Rampone, a retired defender for the USA national women’s soccer team once said, “If we score, we might win. If they never score, we can’t lose.” Perhaps if we shift our mindset and start building durable secure structures, maybe we can turn the tide on rural crime and bring some stability and safety back to Western Canada.

ATB Photos Credit: