Crime is down for the first quarter of 2021, says the officer in charge of the Port Alberni RCMP detachment.
Inspector Eric Rochette presented his quarterly report to city council on Monday, April 26, with statistics from the first three months of the year (January to March). According to Rochette, criminal offences in the city are down by 31 percent compared to the first quarter of 2020.
Break and enters are down by 52 percent, while thefts from vehicles are down by 72 percent. Violent offences are also down by 17 percent.
Bike thefts are the only type of property crime that has seen an increase, with bike thefts jumping from two in 2020’s first quarter to seven in 2021. (Bikes stolen from the Wood School cycling program happened in April and were not counted in these statistics.)
“Which is still obviously quite low, but a big difference compared to last year,” said Rochette. “The numbers are down for sure, but we still have issues in regards to property crime. We’re going the right way, but there’s always work to do.”
Domestic violence calls have also seen a slight reduction, from 43 in the first quarter of 2020 to 37 so far in 2021. Rochette said this is the first time in five quarters that the department has seen a reduction in domestic violence.
“Which is good news,” he said.
The department also undertook a large investigation at the beginning of the year after securing a $45,000 grant to investigate drug dealers in town over a five-month period (November to March). Through this investigation, said Rochette, the detachment conducted four search warrants and arrested 10 people.
“Right now we’re working on securing charges against these individuals,” said Rochette.
The investigation recovered stolen property and seized a “fairly large amount” of cocaine, fentanyl and other illicit drugs, totalling almost $400,000 in street value.
“We’re quite happy with the success of this operation,” said Rochette.
The detachment will be re-applying for funding later this year to undertake a similar investigation, he added.
Councillors offered their thanks to the Port Alberni detachment for their work over the last few months.
“This is one of the most encouraging reports we’ve received in a few years,” said Councillor Ron Paulson.
The detachment has not gone untouched by COVID-19, said Rochette. Over the past three months, seven RCMP members have been forced into self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposures, which has impacted the detachment’s ability to conduct investigations.
However, the detachment has not seen any positive cases to date.
“We’ve been lucky,” he said.