One of the city’s most common crimes took a major dip this summer with a 43 per cent drop in the number of thefts from vehicles.
While the drastic decline didn’t continue into the fall, detachment commander Insp. Warren Dosko said he is confident the police can keep driving the problem down.
The numbers were presented to city council in the city’s third quarter report in late November and showed the city saw 195 thefts from vehicles from July to the end of September. In the same period last year there were 344 thefts.
To date in the fourth quarter starting in October, there were 118 reports compared to 132 in the same timeframe last year, a drop, but not as significant as the one in the summer months.
Overall for 2010, the number of thefts from vehicles is on par with last year, but Dosko said the increase is largely due to high numbers in the first half of the year. He said without the significant reduction in the summer the numbers would be much higher.
Dosko said the detachment focused in on the crime this summer through a number of methods. He said they put leaflets on the windshields of unlocked vehicles or ones with valuables clearly present.
Some of those efforts have been relaxed going into the fall, which is why he believes the drastic decline didn’t continue. He said the RCMP also made an effort to go after some of the more prolific offenders, because one person can commit many of these crimes.
“They will go out there and break into 30 or 40 cars in a night,” he said. “When we do happen to apprehend or identify some of the people who are committing these crimes, we will see a decrease immediately.”
Dosko said police officers are also being more vigilant about tracking offenders who are out on bail.
He said most of those bail conditions require curfews and officers have been making sure those curfews are respected.
The detachment has used its crime analyst to find out where the crime is happening most often in a given week or month and increasing patrols in that area.
Dosko said the analyst, along with a volunteer from the Neighbourhood Watch, has been extremely helpful in targeting policing in the right areas.
“That information from a policing perspective is powerful,” he said. “Policing into the future without a crime analyst, you are just spinning your wheels.”
After seeing some positive results this year, Dosko said the detachment plans to devote an officer specifically to this type of work next year.
“We will have a dedicated resource who will be working on these types of offences,” he said. “Hopefully, we will see an even more significant reduction through next summer.”