Area crime statistics in 2010 compared to 2009 show a reduction in petty crime but an increase in serious crime.
“When I say serious crime, that amounts to personal crime – people who get physically hurt” said Staff Sergeant Dave Beach with the Vanderhoof RCMP.
He added that he attributes the increase in serious crime to an increase in organized crime in the area, a trend that has been increasing steadily over the past three years.
“People need money for their drugs. We have gang members in the area … they started coming in here from Prince George fairly recently,” he said.
He added that the RCMP has police intelligence on organized crime members so they know whom they’re dealing with.
“We’re working on finding them committing, then they will be treated the same as anybody else … they may be associated to gangs but we have to deal with them as individual criminals” he said.
The number of reports of assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm went up from 15 in 2009 to 23 in 2010. Despite the increase in serious crime, petty crime levels are down. Common assault has gone down quite substantially from 134 reports to 89 reports. Property arson has decreased 50 per cent with eight reports in 2009 and four reports in 2010.
The number of break and enters has reduced from 112 reports in 2009 to 71 in 2010. Theft of auto/truck reduced from 26 in 2009 to nine in 2010. Other thefts under $5000 reduced from, 156 to 87 reports.
Reports of shoplifting an amount under $5,000 fell from 28 to 19. Mischief over $5,000 reduced from six to one.
Mischief under $5000 more than halved from 373 in 2009 to 168 in 2010. Reports of crime against property also reduced from 842 to 562; reports of causing a disturbance fell by just under 100 per cent from 324 in 2009 to 171 in 2010.
Staff-sergeant Dave Beach of the Vanderhoof RCMP detachment says the crime rates reflect both a 47 per cent drop in detachment strength, as well as the catching of four prolific offenders in 2010.
“We have a member that’s on maternity leave, another policeman quit and another member is on medical leave, so our working detachment dropped 47 per cent in 2010.
“And when we don’t have as many people working, we don’t have as many police out on the street, and if they’re not out on the street they are not seeing a lot of crime,” he said.
He added that the public calls about half the crime in the town into the police station and the policemen out on the street report the other half.
As a result, Beach says crime levels are realistically staying about the same.
“I think the crime is about the same – we’re not doing a better job – we’re just short of people so the policeman aren’t catching as much,”
Despite the reduced staff levels at the RCMP detachment, Beach says police worked hard to catch four prolific petty crime offenders last year, which helped reduce property crime.
“We had four people causing a lot of the minor property crimes, so we focused on that.
“We found out who they were, they went to court, they got released, we breached them for not following the court curfew orders and after the second or third time of getting breached … the judge sent them away … and when the judge sent them away our reporting of those kind of crimes went down,” said Beach. Impaired driving statistics were another area where numbers fell. In 2009, there were 61 reports of impaired driving; in 2010 there were 31.
Beach attributes this to not only the harsher penalties for impaired driving, but also as a result of back up from the Prince George Traffic Unit.
“They’re coming out here and assisting us – they have been doing that a lot more in the last year,” said Beach.
As far as new recruits go, Beach says the detachment had a new addition to the force about a month ago and they are expecting another new recruit on June 1.
“Hopefully we get the third person filled and after that we’re back up enforcing crime way better than we were last year,” said Beach