Fraudulent CERB claims have lowered crime Penticton RCMP says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fraudulent CERB claims have lowered crime Penticton RCMP says

Superintendent Brian Hunter says crime dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic and fraudulent CERB cheques likely played a role.
July 13, 2020 - 6:30 AM

Crime in Penticton has dropped significantly through the COVID-19 pandemic and Penticton’s police chief thinks it’s partly because of fraudulently-obtained federal assistance cheques.

Detachment Supt. Brian Hunter said some of the "most vulnerable members of the community including those suffering from addictions” have told officers they got money from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, known as CERB.

He said it appears unlikely many of those individuals would be eligible for the benefits. CERB funds are generally intended to replace income lost specifically to the pandemic.

"Whenever we have a large increase or decrease in crime, we try to analyze the causation. It is purely anecdotal that we are making a connection that a portion of the drop in crime may be related to CERB money,” he said in an email.

For the period between April 1 and June 12 in Penticton, overall crime was down this year by 21 per cent. Property crime dropped 22 per cent year over year while break and enters into businesses dropped 34 per cent and residential break and enters dropped by 26 per cent.

Hunter said a significant number of the detachment’s property crimes are correlated and driven by addictions.

"Some of our vulnerable clients with addictions resort to property crimes to feed their addictions,” he said. "If any of our vulnerable clients with addictions find themselves with CERB money, it would likely negate the need for them to commit property crimes to feed their addiction.”

He said it was also important to recognize not all people with addictions commit property crimes, and not all property crimes are committed by people with addictions.

His detachment also brought in some new crime reduction measures, which may have helped, but he didn't explain it entirely in the emailed statement.

Penticton RCMP won’t be investigating fraudulent CERB claims. That’s done by Canada Revenue Agency investigators.

Hunter expects the set of quarterly statistics following the discontinuance of the CERB handouts will “be interesting to evaluate.”

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