The association representing businesses in downtown Sidney is concerned about rising property crime, but applauds other developments.
Figures released last week show property crime in Sidney has risen 32 per cent in the first two quarters of 2019 over the same period of 2018 to reach the highest number in six years.
“The Sidney [Business Improvement Area Society] shares the concern raised by the RCMP about the reported increase in Sidney’s crime rates,” said Morgan Shaw, executive director and event liaison facilitator. “We know other individuals and organizations share this concern too. We are eager to continue to work with the RCMP and others to address the problem as part of a wider community effort.”
Morgan said her society has taken another of steps to address crime in the downtown, especially shoplifting. They included tighter ties with the RCMP community liaison officer Cst. Meighan de Pass, facilitating crime prevention workshops for members, help business owners make sound decisions around the installation of security systems and more secure merchandising, and supporting establishment of an electronic alert system that tells members when an incident has occurred or, in some cases, is happening, she said.
“[This] has included circulating images from video surveillance cameras to ensure that all shop owners can be on the lookout for the individual(s) who committed the crime,” said Morgan.
These comments come after the public heard from Staff Sgt. Wayne Conley of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP commenting on the report.
“If we go back through the spring and into early summer, the community was being hit very hard by thefts from vehicles, thefts of lockers in condominiums and apartment buildings in the community,” he said. “We were successful after many weeks of late night presence in arresting two individuals from outside of our jurisdiction. Not surprisingly, our thefts from vehicles in Sidney and those thefts that were happening in condominiums have dropped off almost completely.”
This said, Sidney has also seen thefts from homes, whose owners were away on vacation, but nothing to the extent evident in the core communities of Greater Victoria such as Saanich and Oak Bay, he said in calling for additional vigilance through the Block Watch Program.
But if the report might give Sidney merchants reason for concern, it also highlights positive developments. “We were pleased to note, for example, that ‘crime against persons’ actually decreased by 39 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, well below the five-year average,” said Morgan.
Overall, the number of crimes against persons (violent) has declined 32 per cent during the first six months of 2019 compare to the same period of 2018. “Violent crime is well below the [five]-year average of 60 offences,” it reads.
Morgan also expressed the hope that the decline in violations involving controlled substances continues. Compared to the same period last year, the number of violations declined 100 per cent.