While police-reported violent crimes dropped in 2017 compared to the year before, property crime continues to climb, according to police statistics set to be heard in council this week.
Overall, Penticton’s property crime rate climbed just six per cent, with residential and business break-and-enters actually decreasing last year by three and 10 per cent respectively. But the report to council indicates a spike in “other” break-and-enters to the tune of 79 per cent.
“Theft from vehicle remains the single greatest crime type in Penticton, the majority of which are from unlocked vehicles or those with visible valuables,” the report reads.
Theft from vehicle jumped 13 per cent last year, while stolen vehicle reports saw a bump of just three per cent last year, according to the report.
More broadly, the South Okanagan-Similkameen regional detachment saw more sweeping hikes in property crime, with an eight-per-cent bump in total property crimes last year. That included increases in auto theft (13 per cent), other break-and-enters (37), residential break-and-enters (16) and theft from vehicle (11).
The police are patting themselves on the back for the closure of a series of crimes, typically starting with the theft of a Ford F-250 or F-350, often without passive ignition immobilizers. The spree began in West Kelowna and spanned down to the Keremeos and Osoyoos areas.
“Despite the significant damage and loss inflicted by this group and the fact that they were well known, it took considerable resources and time to track them down,” the report said.
“Property crime and theft of these vehicles has dropped dramatically since their arrest, which is an indication of the impact prolific offenders have on our community when they are at large.”
Crime in Penticton appears to be concentrated in a five-block radius in the city centre area, with the crime rate diminishing as you move away from that centre, according to a heat map in the report.
The map indicates the highest volume of calls come from the area between Van Horne Street to the east and Young Street to the west and between the library and Landmark Cinemas.
Police-reported violent crime has dropped according to the year-end datasets, though one women’s advocate cautioned last week against too much optimism in police-reported drops when it comes to domestic and sexual violence.
Police also note in the report that they have opened three separate child pornography investigations in the final quarter of 2017.
“These investigations are very technical in nature and are often international,” the report said. “Despite the cost and time invested, the identification and prosecution of those involved in this type of exploitation is a priority for our experienced investigators.”
The regional detachment’s Serious Crimes Unit is also investigating three homicides last year, while the Southeast District Major Crimes Unit is investigating a fourth, according to the report.