A Kelowna man’s crime spree June 17, 2019, resulted in a car chase which saw the man take out a fire hydrant before fleeing on foot to an empty house nearby and a four-hour police standoff. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Property crime continues to drive crime rates: Kelowna RCMP

‘This issue is not unique to just our area, and in most cases property offences are preventable’

The RCMP and City of Kelowna officials are identifying property crime as the main reason behind a spike in reported crimes in Kelowna.

From burglary to vandalism, property crime is the most commonly recorded offence in most cities, according to the RCMP—a stat which certainly rings true for Kelowna, according to Statistics Canada’s annual crime report for 2018. Of the 14,684 criminal code violations (excluding traffic violations) in Kelowna, 10,017 of them were property crime violations, says the report.

Over the past five years, Kelowna has shown a steady increase in property crime, rising to 7,231.81 per 100,000 in 2018 from 5,290.49 incidents per 100,000 citizens in 2014.

It’s this statistic that the RCMP points to as the cause of the increase in Kelowna’s Crime Severity Index.

“It’s no surprise that property crime continues to drive our crime rates here in the Central Okanagan,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“This issue is not unique to just our area, and in most cases, property offences are preventable. We will continue to work together with our partners to take a proactive and analytical approach to crime prevention and actively target repeat and priority offenders in our community.”

READ MORE: UPDATE: Mount Miller wildfire on Okanagan Connector increases to .80 hectares

READ MORE: Kelowna man faces charges after fleeing on foot from stolen sedan

Darren Caul, the newly hired director of community safety with the City of Kelowna, echoed the sentiment. He said it’s crucial to look at the context for statistics like these.

“A change in crime stats can be the result of a number of different things. It may be that citizens are reporting crime more often and it could be the result of targeted enforcement efforts, which is certainly the case—in part—here,” said Caul.

“Kelowna is allocating almost 30 per cent of its taxation spendings to police services in 2019. Since 2015, we have added 23 RCMP officers and nine bylaw officers, four of those bylaw officers coming just in the last year. Those four officers are focused on foot patrols and bike patrols, especially in the downtown area and areas with higher rates of property crime.”

He added few cities of 130,000 population also welcome more than 1.5-million visitors annually.

“So we need to keep that in mind when we talk about crime stats. It’s difficult to understand what is increasing and decreasing these stats.”

While the Crime Severity Index in Kelowna is trending upwards, the Kelowna RCMP said the decrease in violent crime has been significant.

“It appears as though the largest increase in the Central Okanagan (5.6 per cent) was for non-violent crime, which I believe includes all non-violent Criminal Code violations, traffic-related offences, as well as drug violations and all federal statutes. What is important to recognize is that violent crime was down 18 per cent compared to 2017,” said O’Donaghey.

Caul said the message he takes from the statistics is “very clear.”

“Kelowna is a safe city,” he said. “That is reflected in our 2018 citizen survey, in which 87 per cent of residents surveyed said they feel safe in Kelowna.”

READ MORE: Kelowna man faces charges after fleeing on foot from stolen sedan

Statistics Canada’s data also showed another increase in possession of controlled drugs and substances. Possession-related crime has been on the rise in Kelowna for several years but O’Donaghey said that increase is due to an increased response to drug-related issues.

“We believe that the Kelowna stats are high in this area primarily based on the RCMP’s pro-active approach to street-level drug trafficking arrests. The majority of local possession charges come as a result of arrests made for other offences and the possession is often a secondary offence determined during the primary police investigation.”

The City of Kelowna has taken a similar approach, increasing private security, downtown patrol teams and bylaw personnel, according to Caul.

“(They all) contribute to being extra eyes on the street, increasing the reporting and early detection of drug-related crime. And of course with added RCMP, we have increased enforcement ability.”

Rates of homicide were down to just one in 2018 from five in 2017. The lone homicide in Kelowna last year was the death of 23-year-old Esa Carriere from Mississauga, Ontario. Nathan Truant, 26, and Noah Vaten, 20, both of Kelowna, along with an 18-year-old Kelowna man and an 18-year-old Kelowna woman were charged with manslaughter in relation to Carriere’s death.

More crime statistics from Kelowna as well as across the province can be viewed at statcan.gc.ca.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Woman refused entry after refusing to wear mask at store in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

Stranger in truck grabs boy walking home from school in Kelowna

The 11-year-old boy escaped the incident, RCMP are investigating

Okanagan group calls for inclusive COVID-19 recovery plan

RAMA Okanagan wants full immigration status as part of COVID-19 recovery

Peachland residents march for better forest management

The Peachland march was one of many like it across B.C.

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

‘This is a very difficult sentencing’; Judge delays Okanagan manslaughter trial to next week

The courts heard Friday that Bourque “did not intend to cause harm” but that her actions were “reckless”

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read