Crime rate jumps locally

Police focus on property break-ins, theft, vandalism

Crimes in the South Cariboo are on the rise, heard the South Cariboo Joint committee when RCMP Staff Sgt. Blake Ward presented a quarterly summery at its July 13 meeting.

“I think one of the biggest things everybody should be aware of is that the crime rate has been increasing … specifically property crime,” said Ward.

He explained the detachment is working with the North District analyst seeking connections and leads toward finding some answers.

“We have been able to put names to some of these offences … unfortunately there are still some outstanding.”

Overall stats show property crime is up 4.52 per cent across the whole North District, he noted.

“That’s really alarming for us; that’s a big increase.”

Ward said the largest peak in the crime rate is for break-and-enters at both businesses and residences.

“We have had a major jump in the past six or seven months … to go from four break-ins that occurred at businesses [in the previous time period] to 13 is a huge, huge hit.

“Fortunately enough, we do have some people that have been charged for some of those break-ins, but for some of the others we don’t.”

One of the challenges RCMP face is that many of these crimes happen at night, so suspect identification is difficult with only the barest witness reports, such as “a dark-coloured vehicle,” he noted.

Ward added access to closed-circuit video monitors has helped in some cases, but across the board, too few businesses have them in regular use.

“They either don’t have them turned on, or they don’t have anybody trained to take the data off the equipment, or else they aren’t even working or they are using dummy cameras, and as a result, our investigation office often comes to a standstill.”

Police can take fingerprints and evidence from the scene of the crime, but video and witness information is often key to locating suspects, he explained.

The detachment commander said the investigation into a recent spree of business break-ins benefited from “very high quality” video imaging from one location, but the others had malfunctioning video equipment.

“It seems to be a low priority for area businesses.”

The importance of accurate suspect identifications and quality video images is a message RCMP are trying to push out, Ward said, adding trail cams can also be successfully used at residences.

Vandalism has also taken a sizable jump, he noted.

“Over the next quarter, the North District will be focusing on those two areas.”

Ward explained the local crimes are being perpetrated by both criminals travelling through, and by some “new up-and-coming youth” getting involved in break-and-enters.

“Fortunately, one of the youth has left and we’ve seen a decrease in crimes that he was associated with.”

Two groups of local youth who have been in trouble with the law are also now under curfews and conditions, he added.

Ward said when suspects are deemed to be traveling, similar crimes have occurred in places like Kamloops, Williams Lake, Quesnel and Kelowna.

“Our numbers are so low … that when we see an increase of two that’s a huge jump, [but] an increase of nine – that’s massive.”