Time permitting, Keremeos RCMP will continue to respond to thefts from vehicles.
Cpl. Brian Evans of the Keremeos detachment said at this point he’s received no direction from the regional detachment to stop responding to calls involving people breaking into and stealing items from cars in and around Keremeos.
“Obviously, if that is a directive that we are given that’s what we’ll do, but at this point we will still be responding to those calls and as long as time permits I can’t see us not responding,” he said.
Last week, Ted De Jager, detachment commander for the South Okanagan-Similkameen Regional RCMP detachment, said starting late this spring officers will most likely not be responding to theft from vehicles. The news was given to Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen directors Thursday as De Jager provided fourth quarter crime statistics.
The decision, despite there being an 11 per cent increase of theft from vehicles in the region in the same time period in 2016, is part of a plan to achieve 2018 priorities including reducing violent and focusing on more severe property crime. The total calls for theft from vehicles in 2017 at all detachments across the region was 1,008.
“In Penticton alone, theft from vehicle accounts for almost five per cent of the entire calls for service and when we expand that to the whole regional area that is a significant number. It’s one of those things. We had 744 thefts from vehicles in Penticton and we charged three people,” he said. “There’s simply no evidence, it’s that quick. Open the door, take the iPad, take the laptop, take the purse, close the door and walkaway. That’s how fast it happens, and it’s virtually impossible to charge.”
De Jager said at the meeting a public media campaign would go forward and a decision on attending those types of calls would be made in relation to call volumes.
Evans echoed those sentiments saying if the crime is reported while in action there is a better chance of catching those responsible, but if reported the next morning officers have little to go on.
“It’s hard after the fact. If we find out right away. Someone calls and says, ‘I just saw someone,’ there’s a good chance if they give a good description we can catch them usually. If it’s fresh overnight, it’s very rare to solve those. We do sometimes. It isn’t a zero solve rate, but it’s certainly not a high percentage,” he said.
In final quarter statistics provided several weeks ago, Evans said there were 12 theft from vehicle calls in the last six months (July to December) of 2017.
“It’s a little different when you compare a community of 35,000 people to 3,500. It’s not a major part of our call volume, so it’s not that big of a deal. In the middle of the summer, though, if it starts to be overwhelming we won’t be able to respond to those calls. It’s very time permitting,” he said.
If RCMP are not able to respond a police file number would still be provided so the person can claim the loss through insurance.
“It doesn’t matter where you are whether it’s Keremeos or Vancouver, don’t leave your valuables in your car. Don’t leave your keys in your vehicle. Don’t leave valuables in plain site because the chances are your vehicle won’t be broken into. When it is broken into it’s you that’s on the hook to pay the deductible for the damage and you might lose something that is not replaceable.”