Of the 5,457 criminal code violations (excluding traffic violations) reported in Penticton in 2018 almost half are property crime violations.
According to the Statistics Canada’s 2018 annual crime report, 3,322 of criminal code violations were property crime violations.
Over the past four years, Penticton has shown a steady increase in property crime, rising to 9,364.34 per 100,000 in 2018 from 6,906.57 incidents per 100,000 citizens in 2014.
So it’s no surprise that property crime remains a focus for Penticton RCMP.
“There has been an increase over four years in property crime types which is why property crime has been our priority for the past several years,” said Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager.
“It remains a priority this year by targeting the people who are committing the majority of it — the prolific offenders in the community.”
Another tactic to prevent this type of crime, De Jager said, is to reduce victimization by educating the public on how they can better protect themselves. This involves locking doors and securing valuables and property with alarm systems.
The police are dealing with prolific offenders more than they are actually convicting them, he said.
“These are routine offenders who go to jail, they come out, they commit crime, they go to jail, the come out, they go to jail, they come out, they commit crime, they go to jail,” he said.
“Often, we have multiple convictions and so a conviction means they have actually gone to court and been convicted. The amount of times that we are dealing with that person is 10-fold or 20-fold. It’s a very high bar to get a conviction so we have to have our ducks in a row to make sure we get a conviction.”
This is something residents get frustrated with, De Jager added.
“They say, ‘The cops stopped that guy and he had a stolen bike.’ Well, we have to be able to prove the bike was stolen which in about 90 per cent of cases we can’t … just because someone is riding a stolen bike doesn’t mean he stole it. We see a prolific offender on a $5,000 mountain bike, we are pretty sure it is stolen but unless we prove that we can’t take it from him because he could say, ‘My grandma gave it to me.’ We have to be able to prove it and once we have that evidence we can go forward to try and work with Crown to obtain a conviction but all that to say is we are dealing with these people a lot more than we are actually convicting them because we have a high standard that we have to meet and so we should.”
Aside from dealing with property crime, De Jager added RCMP in Penticton are particularly busy with non-criminal case files, which makes up 60 per cent of their work load.
Not mentioned in the annual crime report is an increase in people calling in about suspicious occurrences, he said.
“It is bit of a two-edged sword. On one hand that is good because we should be out there patrolling, but on the other hand most of those suspicious people aren’t doing anything illegal. They might look sketchy but if they are just sitting there in a park, there is nothing we can do.”
De Jager said the RCMP has asked the public to call the police if they don’t feel safe but if people are calling because, “They see something they don’t like and the thing that they don’t like is not illegal, they shouldn’t be calling the police.”
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