Western News file photo Supt. Ted de Jager said break and enters and auto theft are up across the board in the Regional District South Okanagan Similkameen. Western News file photo

South Okanagan-Similkameen property crime increases

RCMP superintendent says rise in property crime is a provincial trend

Supt. Ted De Jager says an increase in property-related crimes is a disturbing trend across the province.

Break and enters and auto theft are up across the board in the Regional District South Okanagan-Similkameen with B&E-other (outbuildings and the like) up by 35 per cent year-to-date compared to the same period last year.

B&Es to businesses were down 18 per cent year-to-date, but jumped 93 per cent — from 44 in Q2 to 85 in the current quarter. De Jager said the increase in property crimes is troubling, auto theft in particular for Penticton. That increased 16 per cent regionally compared to the same quarter last year but jumped 28 per cent in Penticton.

“Property crime remains quite a large slice and we really want to focus on reducing that. It is probably a good quarter of the chart. That is something that is going to be part of our business plan for the next three years is to knock that down by at least 15 to 25 per cent,” said De Jager. “That is a big number, but a lot of that has to do with education and security.”

The better news for Penticton, according to De Jager, is a 28 per cent drop in domestic violence, and a 15 per cent drop in violent crime overall.

“When we talk about community safety, that’s a better actual measure, a better indicator of the reality of safety than some of the things we see that tend to get a lot of note,” said De Jager.

“That doesn’t mean that people that are complaining about some of our social, chronic issues are wrong. They are right, those are things we need to address.”

Auto theft, De Jager said, is an entirely preventable crime through an ignition cutoff device, or a physical barrier or putting the car in a garage. He pointed out that the cost of an ignition kill switch is less than the insurance deductible after having your car stolen.

“That is the type of education we want to get out to people,” said De Jager, delivering his quarterly report to Penticton city council.

He also introduced Cpl. Laurie Rock, who will be heading up the new Community Support and Enforcement Team (CSET), adding that a mental health officer has also been selected for the team, and they plan to create a youth officer position as well.

De Jager’s report showed a significant increase for the B&E Other category, sheds and outbuildings rather than main residences. Across the region, that is up by 35 per cent and 65 per cent in Penticton year-to-date. He said that is a common trend in the summer when most residences are occupied. Offenders target items like paddle boards, lawnmowers, ATVs and tools.

“We would consider those crimes of opportunity,” said De Jager. “That is going to be a big part of Laurie’s educational piece for the community is how do you defend against that, when you are trying to use those items in your day-to-day life.”

As he did in his last report, De Jager pointed out that about 50 per cent of the calls RCMP attend are non-chargeable, things like false or abandoned 911 calls or false alarms.

“We will go to false alarms, because we have to be sure that nothing has occurred, however, it would be better if we could prevent the false part of those alarms in the first place,” said De Jager. “That remains one of our primary concerns.”

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