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Property crimes surge despite new measures

July 25, 2016 1:26 P.M.

Theft from vehicles continues to spike in the city while police have a good idea who may be at least partially responsible — vehicle owners.

Property crimes, including residential break-and-enters and theft from vehicles, rose by 37.3 percent from April to June, RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller told the City’s police committee Monday. That represents an increase of 587 incident files.

"It's been a very, very busy quarter for us," Mueller said

A police-led media tour of the downtown last week found that 75-80 percent of parked vehicles were unlocked and many had valuables left within sight.

The implication of driver carelessness led Mueller to repeat one of his regular observations: “Crime is not a police issue, it’s a community issue.

“I can tell you that’s one of the biggest challenges we’re facing,” he said. “At least take the valuables out so that you’re not inviting people to steal.”

The crime increases are consistent with trends in other southern Interior municipalities, Mueller noted in his quarterly update. Property crime is the detachment's No. 1 strategic priority.

In the case of break-ins, police found that a couple of suspects were probably responsible for the bulk of crimes.Two suspects were arrested March 8 and found to be in possession of not only stolen property but also firearms. Again on March 22, another suspect was arrested and found in possession of stolen property and break-in tools. After that, business break-and-enters dropped by 57 percent and residential by 47 percent.

Another marked increase occurred in drug enforcement with a 47 percent hike in offences, partly owing to work by the detachment’s targeted enforcement unit in concert with other police. That led to charges against 10 suspects believed to be working for a Surrey-based criminal network known as the Wolfpack. Removing the Wolfpack from the equation doesn't solve the problem, though.

"Individuals in this city will be looking to expand and fill that void."

Meanwhile, a new set of wheels has been pressed into service to counter the high number of bicycle thefts. Kamloops RCMP have begun using a bait bike, sometimes locked, sometimes not, to catch thieves. The bike was used three times in the latter half of June, leading to arrests and the approval of charges by Crown prosecutors.

To focus on the No. 1 priority, the detachment set up a criminal intelligence unit in February and adopted a new data tool in April to collate intelligence and target enforcement. As well, a property crime unit was set up and became responsible for coordinating the property crime strategy and investigating the more serious crimes.

As well, auxilliary constables have been pressed into service. Since they can no longer ride along with RCMP officers, the 30 auxiliaries have been placed on "observe and report" duties, reporting via radio any suspicious behaviour around hot spots of crime via. The auxiliary program continues to undergo a national review.

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