Auto theft back on the rise

Although auto theft has risen since 2011, Williams Lake RCMP Inspector Warren Brown said compared to 2008 auto crime is down.

Although auto theft has risen since 2011, Williams Lake RCMP Inspector Warren Brown said compared to 2008 auto crime is down.

“Last year at this time, which was the all-time lowest auto theft that we’ve had recorded in Williams Lake, we had 10 stolen autos and this year we have 34,” Brown said in his report to city council Tuesday,

That 34 is the second all-time lowest the city’s has had after six months, Brown noted.

“When I compare it to 2008 we would have had roughly 140 at this time and 2008 was an average year. So even though we’ve upped marginally from last year, we’re still down markedly from prior years.”

Brown said the RCMP are aware of a couple of people who are responsible for the majority of the auto thefts.

“Those people are known to us as our prolific offenders and those are people that we’ve targeted in our investigations,” Brown said.

In his report, Brown shared stats for the Jan. 1 to June 30 period in 2012 and compared them to other years.

In 2012 there were 39 break and enters to residences, compared to 43 in 2011, and 87 in 2008; 12 break and enters to businesses, compared to 11 in 2011, and 35 in 2008; 227 mischief, compared to 221 in 2011 and 316 in 2008; eight robberies compared to 10 in 2011, and 13 in 2008; 270 false alarms, compared to 311 in 2011, and 396 in 2008.

Mischief often involves theft from vehicles, which Brown described as the breeding ground for up and coming offenders, those who may involve themselves in break and enter into houses or more significant property crimes.

“Quite often or most often crime opportunities arise when people leave things in view in a car that’s locked or unlocked. They’ll see an Ipod or coins or something of that nature.”

Spousal assaults are increasing. There were 50 reported in 2012, compared to 32 in 2011 and 46 in 2008.

“I think with the innovations we have in the community with stake holders and community policing there’s been an increase in the number of incidents being reported, not necessarily that there are more taking place. We’re less tolerant of it in our society today and people are reporting more,” Brown explained.

This spring the RCMP launched a Domestic Violence Unit, where an officer is dedicated to reviewing domestic assault files and communicating with other agencies, as well as victims and accused persons.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure safety during investigations and eliminate the risk of future violence. We will see how this goes and look forward to feedback from the community,” Brown told council.

The stats presentation did not include other violent offences. However, Brown reported there’s been an increase in late spring and summer of targeted assaults, mostly involving youths.

“What’s very concerning is the weapon of choice. Prevalent in our community is pepper spray.”

There have been robberies using pepper spray, including recent incidents at the skate park and others within the vicinity of Third Avenue and Proctor Street.

Safer communities co-ordinator Dave Dickson gave a brief report, and said while summer months see the number of volunteers drop, all community policing programs continue to function.

“Especially in restorative justice, we continue to take a number of cases, being that volunteer numbers are down it becomes more of a challenge but we’re functioning well and will be ramping it up again in the fall with additional training for restorative justice and Circles of Strength training in domestic violence,” Dickson said, adding volunteers will be sought for the programs.