From Superintendent Ted De Jager
Although we normally report quarterly, this particular report covers five months in order to provide a complete picture of events through our busy summer. There is a comparison between the first half of the year and the main summer months in order to demonstrate the impact of significant population increases and to emphasize the need for all of us to remain a part of community safety and wellness.
As I have often stated in past reports, over 60 percent of our calls for service do not involve a solution where the police are the primary agency or able to charge offenders. Our communities need to work together to resolve some of the issues facing us. I implore you all to call in crime or suspicious occurrences when they are happening. I often hear statements such as “crime is getting out of hand in our neighborhood.” When we check that area, we often see no significant increase. If the public does not call us, we cannot target an area or determine what is happening. To be frank, if several neighborhoods are experiencing issues, it is the one which calls the police that will trigger a stronger police response. Call us. We will come as quickly as possible.
In the first part of the year, we were successful in obtaining grant funding to kick of the Community Active Support Table (CAST). This is a risk driven response model that works in collaboration with other human service providers to identify risks before incidents occur. Training began in June and was completed for most partners in August. CAST has already received several referrals to connect people at acutely elevated risk. Many of these people are the very same that you see in the downtown core or suffering from illnesses or addictions. This model is designed to help them and connect them to the support they need. In many communities this model has been instrumental in reducing child protection cases, violent crimes, and emergency room admissions. CAST will provide service throughout Penticton and ultimately throughout the South Okanagan. Housing is a significant part of the success of tables such as CAST. It is great news that housing initiatives are moving forward, which will have a large impact on the perception of homelessness and vulnerable populations in Penticton. We need to support collaborative initiatives such as CAST and look out for each other through programs such as Block Watch and volunteer patrols.
Much of the property crime in our communities can be prevented through increased vigilance in locking doors and securing valuable items. That does not mean we can prevent all victimization, but the vast majority of crime in the South Okanagan is committed by a small group of prolific offenders.
As with the last part of 2017, dedicated targeting has led to a significant reduction in property crime in certain areas in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. This is good news but it does not mean we can slow down on our targeting or engaging with all of you to be our eyes and ears. Some communities such as Oliver have seen a significant spike in property crime. We have deployed our Target Enforcement Unit and other assets to those areas and are maki9ng progress, but as always, we need your help to be our eyes and ears and to look after your hard earned property. Although property crime leads our calls for service in terms of sheer numbers, the prevention and prosecution of violent crime must remain a priority. The good news is that by targeting prolific offenders, violent crime has again been reduced in our communities. In that regard, we need to address perceptions that the South Okanagan is a dangerous place or that crime is out of control. Although there are a few examples of random violence, the reality is that almost all of our violent crime is committed by an offender known to the victim or is the result of a certain lifestyle. Theft from auto is still the single highest crime type over last year and growing.
As in my last report, I continue to ask you what it will take to stop this, since the majority of this crime occurs when valuables are left in plain view inside unlocked vehicles. We continue to respond to these types of crimes despite inaccurate reports to the contrary, however, you can stop them in their tracks by locking your doors and removing valuable from your vehicles. Fraud has also gone up significantly due in part to theft of credit cards and identification from wallets left in vehicles.