Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Digging into Langley City crime statistics: reporting suspicious activity and opportunistic crime

Last week, I posted about the crime statistics provided by the RCMP at the latest Langley City council meeting. Langley City is a 10-square kilometre urban core. Covering Downtown Langley, the Langley Bypass, and sections of Willowbrook, we are the commercial centre of Langley. We also have very real socioeconomic challenges in our community such as people living in poverty, and people who are homeless. These aspects of our community, combined with our geography and small population, mean that our crime rates will be higher than other communities.

What kind of reported criminal code violations do we see in Langley City? I decided to dig into the most recently available Statistic Canada data. This data covers up until the end of 2016. Before I get into the details, I wanted to provide a bit of context around these statistics.

People need to report crime and suspicious activity for it to show up as a statistic. The more crime that gets reported, the higher the statistic. In Langley City, we have been actively encouraging both residents and business owners to report crime and suspicious activity. While it might inflate our statistics compared to other communities, it helps the RCMP make Langley City safer.

The first table looks at total Criminal Code violations (excluding traffic such as speeding). The three broad categories are violent violations, property crime violations, and other violations.

All Criminal Code Violations (Excluding Traffic), Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

Over the last five years, total violent violations have been trending down though there was an uptick in 2016. Violent violations are crimes committed against people such as assaults. Property crime and other criminal code violations have seen a marked increase. Digging deeper, what has caused these increases?

When it comes to property crime, theft under $5,000 is the largest driver in these stats with theft from automobile seeing a significant increase. Another category that has been on the rise is shoplifting.

Total Property Crime Violations, Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

For other criminal code violations “disturbing the peace” has more than doubled in the last five years.

Total Other Criminal Code Violations, Langley City. Source: CANSIM Table 252-0081.

For both shoplifting and “disturbing the peace”, I would venture to guess that this is a result of an increase in people reporting crime and suspicious activity.

I know that the RCMP are aware of the increase in opportunities crime in our community, and are working to get prolific offenders off the street. At Langley City, we are encouraging people to continue to report crime and suspicious activity. We are also actively encouraging businesses to get free crime prevention assessments from the RCMP.

We are also working to get more eyes and ears on the street which reduces the kinds of opportunistic crime that we see in our community. By enhancing our parks, and providing more evening activities in our Downtown Core, we are getting more people out in the community.

Homelessness and poverty are serious issues in our community. Langley City council is continuing to advocate to the federal and provincial governments to ensure that all people in our community can get housing and the support they need. You can read a recent blog post about some of the concrete actions that are being taken on these matters in Langley.

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