Though there’s a lot of red on his charts, RCMP superintendent Ted De Jager says property crime is the big problem, not violent crime.
De Jager delivered his quarterly report to Penticton city council Tuesday, showing increases in almost every category over the same period last year.
That includes violent crimes against persons, which were up 51 per cent in the South Okanagan, and 62 per cent in Penticton.
“That has a lot to do with our scoring,” said De Jager, explaining that harassing and indecent phone calls are now considered violent crime.
De Jager’s report shows that 10 problem phone calls were counted in the 114 violent crimes reported in July and August. There were 50 common assaults, and 22 in other assault categories. 18 of the 50 common assaults involved domestic violence.
De Jager said that really accounts for a small percentage of the calls RCMP attend.
“Over 40,000 people in the summer, it is almost not measurable. As a measure of perception in the community, that is something we will be working on,” said De Jager. “When we talk about safety, the police officer talks about violent crime, the people talk about perception of safety.
Property crime, he said, is a much bigger problem.
“We do have a property crime issue throughout the South Okanagan,” said De Jager. “Overall, there is a rise.”
Break-and-enter crimes on businesses were up 45 per cent in the Okanagan while residential B&Es were up 17 per cent (down 15 per cent in Penticton) and thefts from vehicles were up 24 per cent.
Theft from vehicles was only up by six per cent (in Penticton only), and De Jager said that category was a concern. But, he explained, RCMP can’t be everywhere, and said people have to take responsibility.
“The reality is locking doors and removing valuables is going to prevent those things from being stolen,” said De Jager.
The RCMP, he said, is also trying to separate perception that the people that are suffering from social behaviours are criminals.
If the problem is homelessness, the solution is housing, De Jager said, explaining that enforcement isn’t going to change problem social behaviors. Pouring out a can of beer, he said, isn’t effective.
“Will that change that behaviour? No. That person will be at the park the next day,” said De Jager.
The same person who is housed, he said, will be drinking in their room.
“We are under no idea that the behaviours are going to stop, but they are drinking in their room, rather than Nanaimo Square,” said De Jager, adding that housing is also the start to getting them help with their problem.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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