CERB said to be helping reduce Penticton's high property crime rate | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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CERB said to be helping reduce Penticton's high property crime rate

Penticton RCMP Superintendent Brian Hunter.
October 25, 2020 - 1:56 PM

Penticton RCMP continues to see improvement in the city’s property crime statistics and the COVID-19 pandemic is where they're putting the credit.

RCMP detachment commander Supt. Brian Hunter began to notice an appreciable drop in the city’s high property crime rate early on in the pandemic.

Last July, he mentioned it in a report to the city’s Safety and Security Advisory Committee.

He anecdotally concluded the drop in crime could be at least partly due to the fact that Canada Emergency Response benefits (CERB) were being distributed to those who were committing property theft crimes.

Front line officers told Hunter benefits were being fraudulently obtained by some of the city’s most vulnerable, including drug addicts.

In analyzing the sudden drop in statistics, he said it seemed probable that if some of the community’s addicts now had CERB money, there was no longer a need for them to commit crime to feed their addictions.

Six months into the pandemic and two quarterly reports later, Hunter reported earlier this week to Penticton City Council the noticeable drop in property crimes has continued.

“Crime statistics continue to show a significant decrease in the city, down 26 per cent in this quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019,” he told council earlier this week.

“It’s fair to say the pandemic is one of the factors in the reduction of property crime in the city,” he told council, adding it would be interesting to see what things look like in the third quarter as the federal government makes changes to emergency pandemic funding.

Coincidentally, Hunter reported an uptick in property crime over the past three weeks, just as CERB benefits came to an end on Oct. 3.

The superintendent noted while other communities are seeing a slight reduction in property crime, they aren’t seeing as drastic a drop as that experienced in Penticton.

“The property crime rate in Penticton is one of the highest in the country,” Hunter said in an email yesterday.

He said that’s a reason why the effect of the CERB money was more noticeable in the city.

Hunter said the city’s police-led crime reduction initiatives and the presence of extra pandemic money contributed to the reduction in crime rates.

“Those factors correlate to our crime stats going down more than in communities that started with a lower property crime rate than Penticton’s,” he said.

Property crime dropped 22 per cent between April 1 and June 12, compared to the same period a year ago, and the category was down 26 per cent more recently in the detachment’s third quarter report, compared to the third quarter of 2019.

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