Stats recently released by the Penticton RCMP show nearly 500 property crime offences in January and February of 2017.
Comparatively, the first two months of 2016 saw around 350 offences, with slightly lower numbers in 2015 and just over 200 in 2014.
Yearly numbers show 2015 as the biggest year for property crime, with data going back to 2011, with numbers starting off higher in 2017 than any other year in the data.
The stats were prepared by Rachel Linklater, crime analyst for the Penticton RCMP.
“There is no question that property crime levels have risen in the past five years,” the report states.
The report attributes possible factors to the increase including the prevalence of drug addiction in Penticton, in particular opiate and methamphetamine addictions; staffing resource shortages within the RCMP, mostly front-line policing positions; operational priorities and multiple homicides in the past two years pulling staff from other RCMP sections; the availability of property targets and security measures taken by citizens.
The report also adds “a possible increase in transient population due to the opening of the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver,” to contributing factors.
Initiatives the Penticton RCMP are taking to address the rise include a biweekly meeting entitled Compstat: addressing problem residences, priority offenders and how to tackle these issues.
The formation of the Targeted Enforcement Unit was also cited, with the unit focused on property crime, drug crime, prolific and priority offenders.
Overall numbers of property crime are on an upward trend from 2011 to 2016, with the number of property crime files staying somewhat stable from 2011 to 2012, decreasing in 2013 and remaining on a steady increase through 2014 and 2015. There was a slight decrease in total offences in 2016.
The file counts, or number of property crime police files produced, in the first two months of 2017 show a notable increase over the same months in the past six years.
“Crime traditionally spikes in Penticton in the summer months so it is unusual to see a spike in property crime activity early in the year as February has previously been a low point for a number of property crime files from 2011 to 2016,” the report states.
Different offence types have differing trends, with 2017 showing a rise in business and other break and enters, while residential break and enters trend downward.
Break-ins to common ares in apartment buildings (lobbies and parkades) are responsible for business break and enters, and the report attributes some of the increase to a group of offenders who were targeting these areas.
“All of these individuals are currently being held in custody,” the report states.
Theft from a vehicle was the most frequently occurring offence for January and February 2017.
The report notes the numbers are limited to police-reported data, crimes not report dot police won’t appear in the numbers.