Property crimes in Sidney rose five per cent to 355 offences in 2019, according to a report presented to council Monday night, a figure that marks a positive development compared to the first half of 2019.
The report presented by Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP also notes that crimes against persons dropped nine per cent to 84 total offences, while other Criminal Code offences dropped 17 per cent to 111. Looking at the bigger picture, the property crime rate is above the five-year-average of 319 offences, with the violent crime rate “well below” the five-year average of 80 offences. Criminal Code offences are also “well below” the five-year average of 153 offences.
The category of property crime includes crimes like arson, break-and-enters, fraud, mischief and theft from vehicles. Looking at specific property crimes, the report shows significant spikes in the number of commercial and residential break-and-enters, rising 288 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. In 2019, RCMP responded to 31 commercial break-and-enters, up from eight in 2018. Residential break-and-enters rose to 14 in 2019 from 10 in 2018. The report also shows a 14 per cent increase in thefts from vehicles.
The year-to-year figures actually mark a positive trend when compared to the earlier part of the year. While property crimes rose 32 per cent during the first two quarters of 2019 compared to first six months of 2018, the third and fourth quarters showed significant drops in property crimes. They dropped 21 per cent in the third quarter and 18 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Notably, these declines have taken place after RCMP had arrested two of what officials called “prolific offenders” who had come from outside the community.
Generally speaking, property crimes represent the largest share of crimes, in the case of the fourth quarter, 59 per cent of total Criminal Code offences. During that quarter, other Criminal Code offences accounted for 21 per cent, and crimes against persons 19 per cent. Of notable interest is the 76 per cent year-to-year drop of charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).
“This decrease can be attributed to the new cannabis legislation legalizing the possession of marijuana,” it reads.
Traffic safety also improved in 2019 compared to 2018 as the number of collisions dropped by 35 year-over-year. The number of impaired drivers taken off the road, meanwhile, rose 10 per cent.
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