JOHN GRIFFITHSNEWS Contributor
All those new homes under construction in Parksville have proven to be a magnet for thieves stealing appliances, tools and construction materials.
In fact, said the acting commander of the Oceanside RCMP, thefts from building sites very much contributed to a threefold increase in residential break-ins during the spring building boom.
Staff Sgt. Roger Plamondon reviewed his statistics with Parksville city council on Monday, showing residential break-ins increased from eight in spring 2015 to 24 in spring this year.
“We have identified one suspect and are getting evidence for possible charges,” he said.
In the same period, there was also a big increase in mischief affecting Parksville businesses. Only 21 such incidents were reported in spring 2015, compared with 76 business mischief investigations in the second quarter of this year.
Plamondon said part of the increase, however, is attributable to new mischief scoring methods that now include “loss of enjoyment” for the business owner, such as someone falling asleep in a bank or “someone canvassing for money” outside business premises.
Coun. Teresa Patterson said she had made several calls as a business owner for theft, mischief and vandalism and asked if any particular age bracket is responsible for most mischief reports.
The staff sergeant replied that the majority of such offences arise in the downtown and beach areas. They involve “transients varying in age” who often disperse before police arrive to investigate.
Coun. Leanne Salter asked what the police can do if someone has simply fallen asleep in the doorway of a bank.
“In those particular cases, where they are not committing an offence, we have a conversation and try to get some details,” said Plamondon. “We query those individuals. When there are no warrants or records we ask them to move on. If they are in need of social services we refer them.”
Although drug related statistics remained unchanged at 31 cases in spring of both 2015 and 2016, Coun. Sue Powell wanted to know what, if anything, the local RCMP detachment is doing to prepare for fentanyl overdoses now reaching epidemic proportions across Canada.
“This is being examined very closely,” Plamondon concurred. He raised concern that the emerging, synthetic opioid W-18 is even 100 times more potent than fentanyl and that police forces are exploring ideas of equipping their officers with antidote nasal spray in hopes of reducing fatalities.
On a more positive note, the staff sergeant’s report to council showed a significant decrease in Parksville in speeding and other provincial traffic offences. There were 520 such offences this spring compared with 761 for the same quarter last year.