Property crime is on the rise again in Port Alberni.
Port Alberni RCMP Officer in Charge Insp. Eric Rochette presented his quarterly report to Port Alberni city council for the first three months of 2022 (January to March) on May 9.
Although the total number of calls for service to the RCMP has gone down by seven percent compared to the same quarter in 2021, criminal offences are up by 27 percent and property crime is up by 28 percent.
Port Alberni RCMP received 387 calls related to property crime from January to March, which is an increase from 301 during the same quarter in 2021, although it is not as high as the 499 calls received in 2020.
Rochette said the “biggest impact” on property crime was vandalism, which saw an increase of 42 percent during the quarter. Shoplifting has also gone up “significantly,” he added.
On the positive side, theft from vehicles is down by 23 percent for the quarter. The number of domestic violence reports is also down by 20 percent, which Rochette partly attributes to the RCMP’s work with Sage Haven Society (formerly Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society).
Port Alberni has seen a few arrests of “well-known” or prolific property crime offenders over the past few months, said Rochette. Two are currently in police custody, and a third has been released with the condition that he cannot return to Port Alberni.
“That’s going to have a direct impact on property crime,” said Rochette.
The detachment’s crime reduction unit has also been focusing on a drug enforcement project over the past few months, which led to the arrest in January of an individual who is facing 20 charges related to drug trafficking. The charges resulted from a traffic stop on Fourth Avenue, which resulted in the seizure of a “significant” quantity of drugs, including methamphetamine, fentanyl and crack cocaine. Cash and an unregistered, loaded firearm were also seized.
Rochette also told council that he is requesting some seasonal policing money from the province. The majority of funding will be used for projects outside of the City of Port Alberni—for example, boat patrols at Sproat Lake. But Rochette said he is also working on organizing some joint patrols with the city’s bylaw department, focusing on the downtown core.