The number of assaults increased significantly in Courtenay from 2019 to 2020, according to the number of calls for police service. The number of reported assaults jumped from 302 in 2019 to 364 in 2020.
“I don’t know if I can make a correlation with COVID-19,” Comox Valley RCMP Insp. Mike Kurvers said in a year-end report Monday at Courtenay council. “People are more inclined to stay home. They’re not going to work, they’re closer together for longer periods of time.
“Sex offences have gone up, which is concerning to me,” he added. “I can’t give you a reason why that’s happening. The only area that went down is the regional district, everywhere else it’s gone up.”
Valley-wide, there was a 13 per cent increase in sex offences, of which 57 per cent occurred in residences.
“Which can lead to believe that because of COVID-19, people are more likely to be at home,” Kurvers said.
Statistics show a five per cent increase in break-and-enter files.
“A lot of these are from prolific offenders,” Kurvers said. “We have to spend a great deal of time collecting evidence because some people don’t report it. Typically, we need an extensive report for Crown counsel to approve charges.”
A prolific offender believed to be responsible for a series of break-and-enters was arrested in February 2020.
There were 24 more auto theft files, largely from Fords, in 2020 relative to 2019. At the same time, theft from vehicles showed a seven per cent drop, possibly due to prolific offenders who have moved on to other communities.
Kurvers said loss prevention officers have helped to decrease theft and shoplifting by eight per cent.
“Bike Unit is working on a project right now to help with that,” he said.
Mischief to property jumped from 515 to 680 files in Courtenay — many due to a prolific tagger. Mischief files have dropped in other municipalities.
The number of drug-related files are down in Courtenay. However, Kurvers said housing homeless individuals involved in the drug trade at local motels during the pandemic has resulted in more calls for service at those locations.
Impaired driving files have dropped from 324 to 257 in Courtenay. Other Valley jurisdictions have also seen a decline.
“Most people have designated drivers,” Kurvers said. “And just the fact that places are shutting down at 8:00, 10:00 has stopped a lot of it as well.”
There were 10 fewer Mental Health Act files, connected to individuals in crisis where police intervention is necessary.
“A lot of these are going to be individuals we deal with on a regular basis,” Kurvers said. “We work hard to get them to community services…Our first response is to get them the care they need, and then deal with the other components like the criminal aspect afterwards.”
Police continue to work on problem houses in various neighbourhoods.