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Crimes against persons up in Sidney, North Saanich

New crime report also highlights efforts to fight scams and collision hotspots
Criminal code offences in the jurisdiction of Sidney/North Saanich RCMP rose by 20 per cent during first three months of 2022. (Black Press Media File)

New figures from Sidney/North Saanich RCMP show local crime rates returning to pre-pandemic levels, but some crimes are exceeding previous levels.

Criminal code offences rose by 20 per cent to 292 total during the first three months of 2022, relative to the same period last year, with crimes against persons rising by 73 per cent to 88 cases.

Looking at Sidney and North Saanich specifically, property crimes accounted for the highest share of criminal code offences in both communities — 41 per cent in Sidney (with 49 cases) and 59 per cent in North Saanich (55 cases).

But while property crimes dropped by 16 per cent in Sidney, they rose 53 per cent in North Saanich and both communities experienced large spikes in crimes against persons.

In Sidney, they rose 96 per cent (with 45 cases) and 80 per cent in North Saanich (18 cases).

Assaults and harassment accounted for the highest number of crimes against persons in Sidney, according to the report figures for the first quarter of 2022 are “well above” the three-year average of 22 for the period of 2017 to 2019. Assaults (excluding domestic violence) rose by 225 per cent to 13 from four cases. The number of harassments also rose by 300 per cent to 12 from three.

The report before Sidney council Tuesday, however, warns against reading too much into the overall increase of crime. While criminal code offences are rising, they are normalizing to pre-pandemic numbers. “As such, when looking at 2022 crime statistics, a more accurate comparison would be using the three-year average between 2017 to 2019. With this calculation, criminal code offences in (the first quarter) of 2022 are below the three-year average of 321.”

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One measure of this return to pre-pandemic levels is the decline of apprehensions under the Mental Health Act, with numbers declining to previous levels following a spike in 2021.

During the first three months, apprehensions dropped 42 per cent to 25. Police also reported 17 per cent fewer 911 calls where mental health was deemed a contributing factor.

The report also highlights ongoing efforts against frauds and scams of various kinds. While the number of frauds where victims reported a financial loss rose by 110 per cent, victims reported a five per cent drop in losses totalling $64,887. By way of comparison, the corresponding figure for 2020 was $129,000.

According to the report, victims have an average age of 67. Leading scams include the false claim that sees fraudster email or call victims claiming to be friends or bosses, the computer fix that sees fraudsters gain access to computers and therefore sensitive financial information by pretending to be computer IT personnel, and the purchase scam that sees victims transfer money to fraudulent sellers (with dog breeder scams being the most common).

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The number of collisions on local roads dropped eight per cent relative to the same period in 2021, but the number of non-fatal collisions rose 14 per cent and the number of fatal collisions rose by 100 per cent to one.

The number of impaired drivers removed from roads also rose by 78 per cent to 45 in the first three months of 2022 relative to 2021.

The report also confirms what many local drivers likely already know: the parking lot of the shopping plaza that includes Thrifty Foods, the traffic circle at the McTavish interchange, and the four-way intersection at East Saanich Road and McTavish, saw multiple collisions in the first three months of 2022.

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