Stats show sharp rise in 'quick and easy' crimes in Vernon - InfoNews

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Stats show sharp rise in 'quick and easy' crimes in Vernon

Const. Ryan Carey and Const. Mark Macaulay talk to a street entrenched woman in Vernon's Linear Park.
November 08, 2019 - 8:35 AM

Recent crime statistics released by the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP show street-level theft and drug offences have skyrocketed this year.

The recently released report also shows 11 per cent of all calls for service to the detachment in Vernon involve the city's street entrenched population.

While the 2019 third quarter policing report shows no real significant change in crimes such as break and enter and theft of a vehicle, the number of reported drug offences and theft of goods under $5,000 has dramatically increased throughout 2019 over the year previous.

Theft under $5,000, which does not include property break-ins or theft from vehicles, increased by 62 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, over the same time period in 2018. Drug offences also increased dramatically by 81 per cent in the same period.

The statistics show that theft over $5,000 has increased by 44 per cent this year, while drug offences increased by 58 per cent.

However, Vernon RCMP Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy says while the number might indicate that certain crimes are skyrocketing, the statistics are not that black and white.

"You look at it at face value and it looks kind of horrendous we've got increases in these areas, but the reasons behind it can be wide and varied," Noseworthy said. "Some of it is that we have a few more people in town than we did last year that are doing a lot of things, so unfortunately you'll see spikes. It only takes one or two people to increase your crime in the community until you manage to catch up with them, and they either get charged and leave or end up in jail."

The other aspect is that the public is far better at reporting crime than it once was.

"Some of it is some excellent work that's been done by our officers in this community," she said.

Noseworthy said crimes that fit into the theft under $5,000 category are generally "quick and easy" street-level crimes such as shoplifting or bicycle theft.

With the finger often pointed at the street entrenched population, for the first time the report includes statistics for calls to service involving this demographic, known as Street Entrenched Policing Target Analysis (SEPTA).

"The term refers to anyone firmly established in the culture of what we would call street life, so it encompasses any person involved in any number of high-risk street-level activities," she said.

Those street-level activities range from panhandling and loitering in the park to open drug use and prostitution.

Officers use several mechanisms to categorize files as SEPTA, from intelligence-based policing to local knowledge.

"Some are people we just happen to know from numerous encounters," she said.

Being of no fixed abode doesn't automatically put a file in the SEPTA box.

"Street life and homelessness are two completely different things," Noseworthy said.

Since the category was established June 25, police have recorded 803 SEPTA files. This number comes from calls for service or officers on the beat dealing with offences. An officer writing a person's name down because they are sitting on private property, or other similar instances, are not included in the figures.

The 656 SEPTA files recorded this quarter make up 11 per cent of the total number of calls to service the RCMP received in the City of Vernon.

Of the 5,958 calls to service received by the RCMP in Vernon, 51 per cent were in relation to a criminal offence. Of those criminal offences, 21 per cent had charges forwarded to Vernon Crown Counsel.

The report can be found here.


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