New figures show crime is up in the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP’s jurisdiction.
Offences across major crime categories rose 24 per cent in 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, according to a new report, which Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley presented to Sidney council Monday. The figures show 956 criminal code offences during the first nine months of 2022, up from 772 and an increase of 24 per cent.
The report said crime numbers are normalizing back to pre-pandemic levels. But the report warns against reading too much into the increase. A more accurate comparison would be the three-year average between 2017 and 2019, it stated. “With this calculation, (criminal code) offences in 2022 year-to-date are below the pre-pandemic three-year average of 1056.”
The most significant increase took place in the category of crimes against persons, rising 49 per cent to 257 compared to the same period in 2021.
Looking at specific communities, criminal code offences in Sidney rose 34 per cent to 462 and 19 per cent to 311 in North Saanich. Both communities witnessed notable increases in crimes against persons. Sidney’s figure rose 78 per cent to 123, while North Saanich recorded an increase of 43 per cent to 60.
Sidney, however, appeared to absorb the bulk of new property crimes. They rose 41 per cent in Sidney to 236 and just 10 per cent in North Saanich to 166.
“The increase (in Sidney) is driven by a wave of graffiti investigations during the summer months, an increase in fraud reporting due to media/education initiatives and reports of shoplifting, which are normalizing back to within pre-pandemic numbers,” the report noted.
This said, property crimes in Sidney are well below the three-year average and normalizing back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Looking at other categories, North Saanich recorded a 13 per cent drop in controlled drug and substance violations to seven, while that category rose 20 per cent in Sidney to six.
Local police continue to deal with frauds with reports of such scams rising 45 per cent. “This increase could, in part be attributed to the fraud awareness campaign that started in March 2022,” the report noted. While the number of reported frauds is up, scammers are becoming less successful as reported losses have dropped by 54 per cent to $188,101.
“Even in instances where the fraudsters successfully obtained money from the victim in the first instance, these victims were able to recognize that they had been defrauded earlier in the scam process before sending more money,” the report stated. “This reduced losses significantly.”
The report also identified the average age of local victims as 66.