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Property crime cut by one-fifth in 2012: WVPD
West Vancouver enjoyed a dramatic drop in property crime last year — a statistic tempered, however, by slight increases in both violent crime and drug offences.
That’s according to the West Vancouver Police Department’s newly released 2012 year-end comparative statistics report which measures incidents of crime against their previous five-year averages.
Against that metric, property crimes like thefts, home invasions and fraud fell by more than one-fifth, for a 22-per-cent decrease over the five-year average.
By the numbers, that works out to West Van police responding to just 1,190 property crime complaints in 2012, as opposed to an average 1,523 calls per year.
Shoplifting complaints made up the bulk of the property-crime calls last year with 243 police responses, while the WVPD attended 219 mischief calls, 209 for theft-other and 154 for theft-from-auto.
On the whole, shoplifting, mischief and theft are considered among the least severe property crimes, compared with, say, commercial break-and-entry or home invasions, which numbered 27 and 102 incidents, respectively.
The overall drop in property crime held up despite a prolonged rash of thefts targeting cars left unlocked on neighbourhood streets and driveways spanning April and May.
“In 2012, we saw a rise in stolen electronics, specifically cellphones and laptops,” WVPD crime analyst Jessica Bedi told the Jan. 24 meeting of the West Van police board. “Most property stolen in 2012 was left unattended and in plain view, which made for opportunistic crime.”
However, last year also brought an unwelcome bump in the numbers of violent and drug-related offences reported.
Complaints of assault numbered 145 last year, comprising nearly half of all 309 crimes of violence reported last year, compared to just 298 over the five-year average. That difference represented a four-per-cent boost in reported violence in 2012, a year which, notably, had zero reported homicides or attempted murders in the district.
Reported drug offences rose slightly more — six per cent — over the average, with 179 complaints against the standard 170. The overwhelming majority of these calls were cannabis-related, with 150 of the calls stemming from marijuana, hashish or resin possession, and one for cannabis production.
As expected, the biggest magnet for mischief in West Van was again the Park Royal business area, most commonly for vehicle damage and graffiti. The mall bested local schools and parks as the top draw for vandals in 2012.
And while incidents of vandalism and mischief are most often attributed to juvenile delinquency, incidents of shoplifting, perhaps surprisingly, are not, with the majority of shoplifting offences last year having been committed by adults between 28 and 37 years old, followed by adults between 38 and 47 years old, and 18 to 27 years old.
Overall, the WVPD saw a four-per-cent drop in all calls for service in 2012, with 14,705 calls compared to 15,241 on average.