For a long time Williams Lake was the car theft capital of North America, and while there was a drastic reduction in 2008 with 20 autos stolen, the numbers rose in 2012, resulting in 101 attempts to steal autos, and the actual theft of 50.
“We saw a spike in the summer time that I can attribute specifically to a number of prolific offenders that we had out of jail at that time,” Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Warren Brown said as he shared crime stats for 2012 with city council Tuesday.
“A number of the prolific offenders that we believe were engaged and involved with auto theft are back in jail for a host of criminal offences now. And since they’ve been in jail, we’ve seen a marked decline.”
Stolen autos are often a conduit to robberies, and break and enters, he said.
“When auto crimes decline, criminal offences decline.”
In 2012, there was a marginal increase of two more break and enters than in the previous year and approximately 12 more residential break-ins than the year before.Those stats are not bad when compared to 2008, he said.
“We are looking at a number of crime reduction initiatives for this year and hope we can bring the break and enters down to a level that’s easier to talk about,” Brown said. “We take that very personal. With the workforce that we have at the detachment, we have a very motivated and engaged group.”
It continues to be a “transition” year for the RCMP because of the loss of 12 senior members in 2012.
“Their replacements are very junior, and inexperienced, but they make up for it with their passion. As they say in hockey this has been a rebuilding year for us and I anticipate good things to come this year.”
The number of false alarms continue to decline.
In 2012 police responded to 300 fewer calls than in 2008, thanks to a false alarm registration bylaw.
In 2012 there were 8,564 calls for service, up from 8,255 in 2011, but a big decrease from 11,164 calls for service in 2008.
“The reduction in the calls for service has been due to a reduction in the crime rate and false alarms,” Brown said, adding the reduction allows officers to be more effective and present on the road.
Domestic violence stats continue to increase, however Brown’s been told that’s a positive step.
In 2008 the incidents reported were in the low 80s, 85 in 2011, and a significant increase mid 90s in 2012.
He said he believes the work going on in the city, including the domestic violence initiatives led by volunteers in the community working with stakeholders has resulted in proper reporting of domestic violence.
“We have also created an administrative position at the detachment where a police officer oversees all the domestic violence files. It’s a policy review to ensure a second set of eyes are on the reports to make sure that nothing goes through the cracks.”
Aside from sharing stats Brown said a fourth member is being added to the aboriginal policing section, after it has been understaffed for two years. A corporal will be arriving in February.
The RCMP will also participate in the Truth and Reconciliation project being organized by Esket’emc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins.
Brown said “unfortunately” there continues to be very serious violence in the community.
“We have youth gangs and crimes of opportunity that make it very difficult to be proactive,” he said, adding the RCMP are working with city council to see if there are ways to reduce the use of weapons of choice.
He looks forward to working with First Nations leadership, including some First Nations communities outside the detachment area, to see what productive programs exist or don’t exist.