Crime in Vancouver: Car and business burglaries continue to fall

Theft from cars fell from 16,488 reports in 2019 to 7,038 last year.

Property crime in Vancouver continues to decline, with vehicle and business burglaries fueling the decline, according to new statistics on the Vancouver Police Department’s website.

Statistics analyzed by Glacier Media show that overall vehicle burglaries fell significantly from 16,488 in 2019 to 7,038 in 2022, while the number of business burglaries fell from 2,446 to 1,961 over the same four-year period.

Similar trends occurred in residential burglaries, with 1,392 recorded in 2019 and 744 last year.

Police have previously pointed out in reports and interviews that the pandemic has been a major factor in the decline in property crime, with more people being at home during the day and fewer people commuting to work by car.

At the same time, police saw an increase in business burglaries in 2020 — 2,790 compared to 2,446 in 2019 — which they attributed to public health-mandated business closures, leaving them vacant and exposed to criminals.

A year later, the number of business burglaries fell by 700.

With health restrictions lifted and more people returning to work, police have predicted that property crime will begin to increase, albeit at a gradual pace, according to studies by several academics around the world.

Simon Demers, director of the VPD’s planning, investigation and audit division, told the Vancouver Police Board in October 2022 that investigations in the United States, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Australia and China point to a return in crime .

A study by data scientists at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom examined crime trends during and after the lockdown in England and Wales. Their study was released in March 2021.

“We found that 12 of the 14 violation categories showed significant declines after the introduction of the lockdown guidelines, followed by a resurgence when restrictions were eased,” said the study conducted by Samuel Langton, Anthony Dixon and Graham Farrell.

“That said, the severity of this ‘bounce back’ varied between crime types. There is some evidence that residential crimes in particular will return to normal for some time, if at all. Other common crimes, such as theft and violence [including sexual offences] experienced a rapid return to normalcy.”

Abandoned calls

In his report to the Police Board, Demers pointed out that dropped calls from citizens reporting a burglary or other non-urgent crime should also be included in crime statistics.

Like Glacier Media As of September 2022, more than 88,000 citizen calls to the non-emergency line in 2021 were dropped – often after long delays – before they could be answered by the control room contracted to take the calls.

A report from police personnel said lost calls to the region’s E-Comm hotline translated to an average of 240 per day.

“These dropped calls likely include several crime reports that went unreported and undocumented in the police records,” the report said.

“Worse, there is evidence that some Vancouver crime victims don’t even try calling the non-emergency line because they know it’s plagued with long delays and they’re unwilling to wait several minutes before talking to an E-mail. Comm call taker.”

Attacks, robberies are on the rise

Violent crime, meanwhile, continues an upward trend, with attacks rising from 4,523 in 2019 to 4,789 last year. Attempted murder cases have returned to 2019 levels, with 20 cases recorded in 2022 compared to 10 in 2020 and 10 in 2021.

The number of robberies has increased from 626 in 2019 to 673 in 2022.

The two precincts, which include the West End, the downtown business district, the Granville Street entertainment strip, the Downtown Eastside, and the area running east to the Pacific National Exhibition grounds, saw the majority of attacks — 3,483 — in 2022 .

Most of the robberies took place in the same neighbourhood.

Vancouver Police Department data released last year showed violent crime was the highest since 2013.

‘Attacking strangers’

The new police data does not differentiate between so-called “foreigner attacks”, a term often used in recent years by the VPD’s media relations team to describe a spate of unprovoked attacks on people in the city, which at one point an average of four a day.

Ken Sim, who was elected mayor in October 2022, cited strange attacks in his campaign as one of the reasons his ABC Vancouver party pledged to hire 100 police officers and 100 mental health nurses over the next four years.

Deputy Chief Steve Rai told the Police Board on Jan. 19 that a recruiting plan has been put in place to take on the new officers, who will likely be a mix of new recruits and experienced officers transferring from other police departments.

The board learned at Sim’s meeting that Rai, Deputy Chiefs Fiona Wilson and Howard Chow, along with Chief Adam Palmer, have all extended their contracts, with Palmer on duty until September 2025.

Police statistics do not account for increases or decreases in Vancouver’s population, which continues to grow.

Vancouver increased its population by 30,762 people from 2016 to a total of 662,248 by 2021, according to a memo from city officials to the Vancouver City Council last year.

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Crime in Vancouver: Car and business burglaries continue to fall

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