Central Saanich Police Service recorded an uptick in property crime in 2020 relative to 2019 with thefts under $5,000 and mischief on the rise. Break-and-enters, meanwhile, dropped. (Central Saanich Police/Submitted)

Central Saanich Police Service recorded an uptick in property crime in 2020 relative to 2019 with thefts under $5,000 and mischief on the rise. Break-and-enters, meanwhile, dropped. (Central Saanich Police/Submitted)

Central Saanich Police Service records increase in property crimes in 2020

Chief Constable Ian Lawson said mischief and theft under $5,000 accounted for most of that increase

New figures show certain categories of property crime are up in Central Saanich, while more serious are down.

Central Saanich Police Service handled 350 files in 2020, an increase of 5.5 per cent from 2019.

Chief Constable Ian Lawson said mischief and theft under $5,000 accounted for most of that increase. Cases involving theft under $5,000 rose to 81 in 2020 from 63 in 2019 (an increase of 1.5 reported per month) while cases of mischief rose to 107 in 2020 to 88 in 2019.

“This past year, we have had an increase of graffiti incidents (and) are we working to address the same,” said Lawson. “Some of those (graffiti) incidents were ‘self reported’ through police patrols as we were actively targeting a group of taggers in the Brentwood area,” he added later.

Notable cases in 2020 involved racist graffiti in Centennial Park and graffiti featuring the letters BLM on Brentwood Community Hall, a likely reference to the U.S.-based social movement calling for racial justice that has become global phenomena following the recent death of George Floyd and other individuals who died after confrontations with law enforcement officers.

RELATED: Central Saanich Police looking into racist graffiti

RELATED: BLM graffiti appears on Brentwood Bay Community Hall

Cases of break-and-enter meanwhile dropped by 35 per cent, a welcome development.

“Generally, break and enters would be one of our highest concerns given the nature of entering someone’s home (and) property and the possibility of a confrontation,” said Lawson.

Looking back at the years starting with 2017, property crime is generally trending downward with 450 files in 2017, dropping to 319 in 2018 before upticks in 2019 (331) and 2020 (350).

Lawson said he can’t speak to what happened in 2017, having assumed his current post in 2020. “But I can tell you from my past experiences being on a property crime unit that a group of prolific offenders can affect statistics of an area our size quite dramatically,” he said. Subsequent years might have seen a stepped up approach by police ranging from crime prevention awareness initiatives as well as focused police investigation, he said.

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

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