Communication and accountability are among contributing factors for a decline in property crimes in Sidney, says the head of the local RCMP detachment.
Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley offered that assessment when asked about figures showing property crimes dropped 22 per cent in Sidney in 2020 compared to 2019.
Property crimes include commercial, residential and other break-and-enters, possession of stolen property, mischief, theft of vehicle, theft from vehicle, arson and fraud.
The 2020 figure of 275 offences appears “well below” the five-year average of 322 offences, according to the report. Local police opened 354 files in 2019, 338 in 2018, 350 in 2017, 263 files in 2016 and 305 in 2015.
“With the business issues, we are working closely with the (Sidney Business Improvement Area Society),” he said. “There is good messaging that goes out through our community policing officer about any trends or when we see things happening. And we are also trying to hold offenders, when they are apprehended, accountable.”
Conley also praised members of the public for changing their personal behaviours in curtailing property crimes, pointing to a recent incident that saw a suspect break into a dozen vehicles in the neighbourhood that includes Lochside Drive, Weiler Avenue and Orchard Avenue.
“Of the number of vehicles that were entered, the majority of the vehicles did not have a theft occur because people were not leaving valuables in their vehicles,” he said.
“It was really rewarding. We would love to see people leave their vehicles locked, but at least the vehicles didn’t have significant thefts from them. Unfortunately, on that same spree, the suspect was successful in finding a wallet and debit card that led to fraud.”
Turning to break-and-enters, Conley said it is more difficult to discern the reasons for the significant declines in commercial and residential break-and-enters. Factors may include the presence of cameras and other security devices, as well as the physical presence of people, he said.
Overall, 2020 will go down as a year of shifts across the detachment’s area of responsibility.
“Over time, until this past year, we haven’t seen such significant fluctuations in crime,” he said. “There tends to be a fair amount of consistency. But this past year, we saw a significant downward trend in property crime (and) a shift upward in (crimes against persons).”
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