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Crime on the rise in Powell River

POWELL RIVER, B.C. – Statistics Canada has released the numbers on crime in municipalities across the country.

In Powell River, numbers went up from 2016 and 2017.

On the Overall Crime Severity Index (CSI), Powell River was listed at 129th in Canada for 2016. The region saw a ten-spot jump over last year, listed at 119th.

For violent crimes, the jump was much larger. In 2016, Powell River was ranked 140th, while last year, the city came in at 88th.

The 2016 ranking for non-violent crimes was 119th, while that ranking dipped in 2017 to 133.

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Staff Sergeant with the Powell River detachment, Rod Wiebe, responded to the numbers via email with the newsroom.

In regards to whether or not the Powell River RCMP changes its policies in response to statistics such as the ones released by Stats Canada, Wiebe said:

“Our detachment has access to a District Crime Analyst who provides us stats on a monthly basis or in real-time if we have identified a need. As the CSI comes out once a year it is not helpful in targeting current crime trends but it certainly gives an annual overview of how the community is doing compared to other communities.”

He went on to say that detachment personnel are aware of what is going on in their community and change priorities as needed.

“A recent example of this was a rash of business break and enters that have occurred over the past few months. Our uniform members teamed up with our plainclothes unit to target these crimes and the specific areas. This resulted in the arrest of an individual who was responsible for most of business break and enters,” he said.

Wiebe said the RCMP in Powell River has had a crime reduction strategy in place for the last seven years.

“This strategy is based on best practices and normally targets prolific offenders who commit the majority of crimes. We work with other criminal justice partners to identify these individuals and support the programs that can help them leave a life of crime. If they chose not to, we revert to an enforcement role and give them the attention they deserve,” he explained.

Wiebe maintained that Powell River regularly enjoys a low crime rate, but said that subjects the region to large fluctuations if there is a crime spree.

“For instance, in 2017 Powell River had three robberies which was a 300 per cent increase from 2016. Also in 2017, there were five sexual assaults compared to only one in 2017, a 400 per cent increase. This may also be why the violent crime CSI was up for 2017,” he said.

Wiebe added that trends are on the rise so far in 2018. He said that as of May, property crime is up 47 per cent and violent crime is up 15 per cent.

Overall calls for service to the Powell River RCMP are up by six per cent.

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