Slight upturn in Penticton crime

Despite statistical upticks, crime numbers remain steady in the South Okanagan.

Violent crime in Canada is on an eight-year downtrend, but there have been some upticks in Penticton and the South Okanagan according to a new report released by Statistics Canada..

Violent crime was up 15.7 per cent from 2013 to 2014 and Penticton RCMP reported 3,904 incidents within the municipality in 2014, with a 1.88 per cent increase over 2013.

The report features a Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime, weighing more severe or violent crimes to have a bigger influence on the index.

Penticton’s CSI was up nine per cent in 2014 from the previous year and the violent crime index was up 15.7 per cent from 2013. Penticton’s CSI is higher than the total for B.C., which is 91.63, and the violent crime index hovers around the same with B.C.’s provincial average being 77.

The numbers are just that Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said.

“I think we sometimes dwell too much on statistics. When you have generally low numbers of incidents,” Jakubeit said. “Going from 10 incidents to 12 incidents is a 20 per cent increase, but it’s really only two files.”

The stats are only tabulated for 2014, but two homicides have taken place in Penticton this year.

“It’s unusual we’ve had two murders in a six month period. If you look back it was many years since we’ve had a serious incident like that,” Jakubeit said.

The last homicide to take place in Penticton was in 2011.

“There’s some solace that the two more serious incidents were targeted incidents. It wasn’t a random act of violence or putting the community at greater risk,” Jakubeit said.

The number of incidents is relatively low for most serious crimes.

However, breaking and entering incidents in 2014 were up 29 per cent in Penticton from 2013 with 315 incidents and 19 people charged, and up 65 per cent over 2013 in rural Penticton with 70 incidents reported.

The violent crime index in Oliver took a big jump from 2013 to 2014 with a 147 per cent increase, with the crime severity index jumping 68 per cent.

Summerland’s CSI jumped 20 per cent from 2013 to 2014, as well as the violent crime index which went up almost 25 per cent. The CSI for Osoyoos jumped 55 per cent in 2014 and the violent crime index was up 29 per cent.

There have been 59 assaults on police officers in Penticton since 2010, with 12 occurring in 2014. The total robbery numbers in Penticton were up 6.69 per cent in 2014 from the previous year, with a total of 77 over the past three years.

A total of six people were charged with theft of a motor vehicle in 2014 in Penticton.

As well, there were nine sexual assault charges in 2014, down from 12 in 2013, with one sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm in 2014. Three incidents of sexual violations against children took place in 2014, with a total of 13 over the last five years. A total of 268 assaults took place in 2014, with only two qualifying as aggravated, 85 occurring with a weapon or causing bodily harm and 181 level one assault charges.

There were 142 incidents of fraud with two cases of identity theft and eight cases of arson in 2014.

Incidents of impaired driving have taken a slight downturn in Penticton since 2010 with 151 incidents in 2014 and 37 people charged.

“Every year there’s ebs and flows with crime. Police work very diligently trying to mitigate that with the resources that they have,” Jakubeit said.

A total of 59 incidents of possession and other charges related to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act occurred in 2014. Last year, three people were charged with heroin possession, 10 adults were charged with methamphetamine (crystal meth) possession, and one youth. Three were charged with possession of ecstasy. There were no charges laid regarding marijuana production or distribution in 2014 and cannabis trafficking charges are showing a downtrend with 25 people charged in 2011, 16 in 2012 and nine in 2013. There were nine people charged with cocaine trafficking last year.

Out of 62 incidents of possession of stolen property, 25 people were charged.

Most of the provinces and territories in Canada had a CSI and crime rate decline for 2014, and the crime rate was up a very slight one per cent in B.C. from 2013. Several violations were contributing to the increase in B.C. including theft under $5,000, child pornography, breaking and entering and thefts of a motor vehicles.