Oliver crime report sees ‘red’

Lyonel Doherty, Times Chronicle

Everyone at the RCMP knew the day would come when Oliver’s crime stats would look more like a spilled can of red paint than a manicured putting green.

Well, it came on May 5 during the quarterly crime report at the regional district.

Quarter 1 (Q1) RCMP crime statistics for Oliver in 2022 show a lot of red in contrast to the first quarter of 2021.

“At first glance the rise in statistical numbers may be startling,” said Cpl. Paul Symons. “But what we are seeing here is just an uptick in reports to police that put us more in line with what we were experiencing pre-pandemic.”

For example, assault causing bodily harm is up 147 per cent, from 19 incidents in Q1 2021 to 47 in Q1 2022.

Domestic violence is up 150 per cent, from four incidents to 10.

Uttering threats is up 60 per cent (from 10 to 16).

Violent crime at the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) is up 76 per cent (from 17 incidents to 30).

Sex offences in Oliver are down 25 per cent (from four incidents to three).

Total violent crime in Oliver is up 58 per cent (from 52 incidents to 82).

Superintendent Brian Hunter prefaced this by saying Oliver’s numbers have traditionally been going down, but eventually you will see a bad year follow a good year.

Total calls for service in Oliver are up 21 per cent (from 646 to 781).

Symons said there was a notable decrease in calls this time last year.

“Many people were staying home. Many people that may have been committing crimes to support their lifestyle choices were probably taking advantage of the government subsidies. As mandates are lifted and daily activities slowly resume back to pre-pandemic, so has some of the calls for service for police.”

The officer said crime statistics can get skewed by a couple of events or select individuals.

He noted that half of the assault cases originate from the OCC, noting that tension has gone up at the prison following last year when there was less incarceration.

Under property crime, the highest increase is 500 per cent in bicycle thefts (from one incident in Q1 2021 to six in Q1 2022).

“Bike theft appears like it is out of control. But a rise from one to six is not exactly a crime spree.”

Symons said three bikes were stolen in one instance where someone accessed a building parkade. Two more were taken from neighbouring residences. “Unfortunately, these were likely crimes of opportunity that spiked that statistic.”

Shoplifting is up 400 per cent (from three incidents to five), and theft is up 280 per cent (from five to 19). Symons said the spike can be attributed to a couple of groups that committed several thefts at various stores.

The officer told regional directors there has been a rise in fuel theft in Oliver, noting that propane tanks are a “hot commodity.” The officer said people have been breaking into storage compounds and stealing these tanks, suspecting that some of the culprits have been living off the grid in vehicles (RVs) and using the tanks for heat.

Residential break-ins are up 300 per cent (from one to four), while business break-ins are down 33 per cent (from six to four).

Break-ins of sheds and outbuildings are up 167 per cent (from three to eight), while theft from vehicles is up 88 per cent (from eight to 15).

Auto theft is up 33 per cent (from six to eight).

Mischief to property is up 18 per cent (from 33 incidents to 39).

Total property crime in Oliver is up 60 per cent from 92 incidents in Q1 2021 to 147 this quarter.

“We are just seeing an increase as people start getting back out and moving,” Symons told the Times Chronicle. “With an influx of people into the region more opportunity for criminal activity to take place may present itself and certain prolific offenders may take advantage of that.”

The top 10 calls for service in Q1 2022 were: traffic incident (62), assist fire/ambulance (59), assault (56), theft (48), check well-being (38), disturbance (36), suspicious circumstances (30), unwanted person (30), alarm (29), and assist other agency (27).

Area C director Rick Knodel said Oliver crime stats this quarter look more like a poinsettia than anything else.

“We have been warned about this day and it’s here; it was coming.”

Knodel acknowledged this is only one report but said the numbers are still concerning, especially the increase in violent crime. He questioned the cause of the increase, suggesting it could be related to the reduction in CERB benefits from the government, or more transients in the area.

Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen also questioned the numbers pertaining to violent crime, wanting to compare them with rural Oliver.

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