Penticton crime rate fell last year, but remains too high for city's top cop | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton crime rate fell last year, but remains too high for city's top cop

February 02, 2021 - 4:50 PM

Falling property crime is likely behind the drop in Penticton's crime rate in the last quarter of 2020, according to the city's top cop.

In the fourth quarter, there were 1,634 calls for service in the city, down five per cent from 1,729 events in the same period of 2019.

In a report prepared for today’s, Feb. 2, regular council meeting, RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter said the decrease was largely due to a decrease in property crimes, which fell from 1,155 events in 2019 to 921 this year, a drop of 20 per cent from last year.

Hunter told council crime was generally down throughout the province due to several COVID-19 related factors, including extra COVID-19 relief money made available to drug users and more people staying at home during the pandemic.

But Hunter said Penticton’s crime rate, down nine per cent overall in 2019, was coming down from a “really high number.”

He said the city’s present crime rate was unsustainable, calling it “egregious.”

Hunter told council he'd researched officer case loads in Penticton since 2014, when the case load was 22 per cent higher than the provincial average, but had risen to 139 per cent higher than the provincial average by 2019.

“We have a lot of work to do in this community. Our members are getting burned out and over stressed by the case load. All they can do is respond from call to call to call to call,” Hunter said.

Business break and enters led the way in property crime declines, dropping from 26 incidents to 11 in the fourth quarter, a decrease of 58 per cent.

The traditionally persistently high theft from vehicle category went from 254 incidents to 151, down 41 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

Fraud was a bit of an anomaly, as one of the crime categories that actually increased substantially in the fourth quarter.

There were 105 instances of fraud in 2020, compared to 75 incidents in the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 40 per cent.

The City's police budget includes funding for two additional officers next year.

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