At the same time as construction work on the North Coast is on the rise, the Prince Rupert RCMP are reporting a drop in crime in the region.
Through the first nine months of 2013, Prince Rupert RCMP have responded to 7,108 files compared to 7,546 files during the same time period last year — a drop of 438. Files handled within the City of Prince Rupert have fallen from 6,922 to 6,517, while rural crime files have decreased from 624 last year to 591 through the first three quarters of this year.
But the quarterly report from Insp. Wayne Maughan to Mayor Jack Mussallem goes further and breaks down crime by category, with most showing declines year-over-year.
Crimes against persons has dropped 15 per cent this year compared to last, falling from 515 in 2012 to 438 this year. Although the number of sexual related offences remains unchanged at 31, assaults are down 12 per cent, instances of uttering threats is down 18 per cent and assaults with a weapon dropped 22 per cent. Robberies increased from seven last year to nine this year and criminal harassment cases increased from 12 in 2012 to 15 in 2013.
The number of property crimes dropped 13 per cent, falling from 879 in 2012 to 768 in 2013, but the numbers are up in a number of key areas. Two more businesses were broken into this year than last, residential break and enters increased from 30 in 2012 to 41 this year, one more vehicle was stolen and there were nine more cases of fraud. Theft under $5,000 was down by one from last year, shoplifting was down seven per cent, theft from motor vehicle dropped by 49 per cent and theft of bicycles was down 54 per cent.
Staff sergeant Victor Steinhammer said the drop in crime can be attributed to a combination of things the detachment is doing, including putting a focus on repeat offenders.
“If you have someone that you’re dealing with on a weekly basis for the same reason, if it goes to court they are no longer a concern … we have some prolific offenders that are now serving time in jail,” he said, noting two other repeat offenders passed away in the last year.
While property offences and personal offences were down, crimes related to drugs were up 48 per cent year-over-year. Trafficking of cannabis was up 100 per cent, jumping from seven cases last year to 14 this year, trafficking of cocaine was up by one case, and the number of people charged with production of cannabis jumped 250 per cent from two cases last year to seven this year. Possession of cocaine, possession of cannabis and possession of ecstasy were also up.
Like the drop in crime, Steinhammer said the increase in drug offences show a shift in focus for the detachment from grow operations to street-level crime.
“Before you go into a grow-op, you have to spend a lot of time gathering information and doing surveillance. You can spend two weeks gathering information and lay one charge in those two weeks,” he said, adding legal grow-ops also create problems.
“With street level crime, the officers can go out on night shift and, instead of laying one charge every two weeks, can lay multiple charges in one night.”
On the roads, Prince Rupert RCMP issued 44 per cent more traffic violations, laid 16 per cent fewer impaired driving charges and saw hit and run instances drop by 28 per cent, from 36 to 26.
While crime is down this year compared to last, Steinhammer said he doesn’t see that trend continuing in the future.
“Considering where we are going in the next five years, I would say no. We are going to have a population increase with LNG and other industries coming to town, and I don’t see how we can continue to have a drop in crime with a jump in population,” he said.