If your car hasn’t been broken into or your house burglarized last year, you’re not alone. Property crimes, or at least reported property crimes, continue to decline in West Shore communities.
In Langford in particular, a municipality which bears the brunt of West Shore crime, has seen a significant drop in petty crimes and thefts over last year, and also a broader drop over the last five years.
Auto thefts and car break-ins are less than half from five years ago. In 2007, 143 cars were stolen out of Langford. In 2009 that hit 89 and last year 61. In 2007, Langford had 515 reported thefts from cars, and 200 last year.
Home break-ins in Langford also fell to new lows, 57 last year after a four year average of about 100 per year.
Colwood and View Royal too have seen healthy drops in vehicle thefts and break-ins, and property crimes. Cars stolen out of View Royal dropped from 36 to 16 in the past two years. Colwood went from 30 to 18.
West Shore RCMP street crime unit and the regional crime unit have been keeping pressure on prolific, repeat offenders, a strategy RCMP Insp. Kevin Violot says is paying off.
Locking away a handful of expert thieves can dent crime stats, but Violot said another key piece of the puzzle is keeping close tabs on offenders on probation. Most have strict curfews, and officers are vigilant in ensuring offenders stay home in the evening.
“We are making a big effort to check that these individuals are in compliance. Our guys are knocking on their doors,” said Violot, the officer in charge of the West Shore RCMP detachment. “If they are on a curfew, we have to make sure its enforced or they’ll just slip back into getting up to no good.”
West Shore RCMP calls for service went down too – about 17,000 in 2011 versus 18,000 the year before. It could be fewer crimes or fewer people reporting crimes, but Violot suspects the stats are an accurate reflection of what is happening on the street.
Heavy emphasis on community outreach – having officers out on mountain bikes for instance, and participating in community events – encourages people to report crimes, he said, and plenty of citizens report suspected drug houses or grow-ops.
“Seeing the theft of vehicles going from 283 (in 2010) to 200 is substantial. I think a big part is our people out there doing community policing –– that and targeting prolific offenders has a great impact on reducing crime rates,” Violot said. “I think we are building on our presence out in the community. With this type of policing, people aren’t afraid to report crimes.”
In terms of community outreach, the detachment hopes to ramp up mountain bike patrols, spanning a broader distance across the West Shore with more officers. Popular with officers and the public, police on bikes patrol Galloping Goose, Langford’s downtown and Thetis Lake park during the summer.
Violot said the detachment plans to continue its “bar watch” program, where police interact with pub patrons and staff, and which potentially helps defuse drunken brawls before they happen.
“Rather than just attending calls at closing time every night, officers go in a talk to patrons and staff. It eases things,” Violot said. “We aren’t there to harass people, we’re their to make sure things run properly. We want to decrease our responses at closing time, where things can escalate.”
West Shore crime stats
Assaults: 2010 – 534; 2011 – 395
B&E-residential – 2010 – 197; 2011 – 118
Theft from vehicle – 2010 – 560; 2011- 435
Theft of vehicle – 2010 – 163; 2011 – 104
Thefts – 2010 – 433; 2011 – 353
Mischief/property damage – 2010 – 805; 2011 – 668
Selected Langford crime stats
B&E – residential: 2007 – 95; 2010 – 99; 2011 – 57
Theft from vehicle: 2007- 515; 2010 – 283; 2011 – 200
Theft of vehicle: 2007 – 143; 2010 – 89; 2011 – 61
Mischief/property crime: 2007 – 694; 2010 – 472; 2011 – 381