Prolific offenders blamed for hike in crime

RCMP report a 41 per cent increase in property crime during the second quarter of 2014 and a 21 per cent hike in Criminal Code offences

Criminal activity has spiked in Vernon.

The RCMP report a 41 per cent increase in property crime during the second quarter of 2014 and a 21 per cent hike in Criminal Code offences. The stats are for the North Okanagan but most of the activity was in Vernon.

“There are prolific offenders in town that are hitting us hard,” said Supt. Reg Burgess.

Burgess admits the investigation into a rash of arson fires resulted in officers having less time for targeted policing involving repeat offenders.

“We are tight (with staffing) and we notice it when we are pulled in one way,” he said.

In June, there were 59 vehicle thefts in Vernon compared to 30 during the same month in 2013. The number of thefts under $5,000 went from 65 to 112.

However, assaults went from 42 in June 2013 to 28 this year, but there were seven domestic assaults reported in June 2014 compared to none last year.

The local detachment had been attempting to maintain yearly target reductions of five per cent with Criminal Code and property crime offences. However, the second quarter resulted in a setback for that goal.

“We’re working diligently to get us back on track,” said Burgess.

The incidents have been spread throughout the community, but some neighbourhoods like Middleton Mountain have been hit particularly hard by criminals.

Burgess is urging residents to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

“It’s very much a case of neighbours being aware of neighbours,” he said.

In Coldstream, there were seven thefts under $5,000 in June, the same number during that month in 2013. Thefts from vehicles went from four to 15.

In the rural Vernon area, police were called to 11 vehicle thefts in June, up from one in June 2013.