Property crime continues to drive Red Deer’s crime rate according to the city’s 2016 statistics.
Incidents of property crime — like break and enters, vehicle thefts, thefts under and over $5,000, and fraud — climbed 15 per cent to 16,185 from 14,029 in 2015.
Overall, the number of criminal code offences grew nine per cent to 24,823.
Crimes against persons, like robbery, sexual assaults and homicides, dipped slightly to 2,916 from 2,964 in 2015.
Homicides or death-related offences held steady at 10 in both 2015 and 2016.
Assaults fell four per cent to 1,572 from 1,634. Robberies dropped to 166 from 169.
Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster said crime is up across the province and the economic downturn is a major consideration.
“There are so many factors outside of our control. Socio-economic factors, demographics, geographical location between Calgary and Edmonton, being a big hub for a lot of surrounding communities are all challenges and have been for quite a period of time. But we continue to do the best we can. That’s all we can do,” Foster said.
Red Deer was ranked the second most dangerous city in Canada in 2015 by Maclean’s magazine.
But Foster said by and large neighbourhoods are safe in Red Deer.
“There are areas of the community that are more worrisome and troublesome than others. I don’t think Red Deerians need to worry themselves that they can’t go any where in the city. But like any place, whether it’s a small town or big city, you have to exercise caution.”
He said there have been some recent positive changes like the decrease in robberies in the final quarter of 2016, dropping from 64 to 39 compared to the same time frame in 2015. Vehicle thefts also fell in December.
He attributed reductions to crime made so far to the Priority Crimes Task Force that helps police in Central Alberta share information. Red Deer RCMP have also been targetting career criminals as part of Project Pinpoint.
“Project Pinpoint is about trying to work more efficiently and more effectively and be more strategic. It allows us to really direct the resources and direct our efforts,” Foster said.
He said the percentage of people who commit most crime is a very small.
“If you have a 100 vehicles stolen you don’t have a 100 people stealing all those vehicles. You have a handful of people stealing all those vehicles.”
And they don’t commit just one type of crime. That’s why it’s important for Red Deerians to always report even minor crime so analysts can see where crime happens and the type of crime committed to develop a map of hot spots for police to focus their efforts, he said.
Break-ins are of particular concern, Foster said.
The rate of break-ins shot up 26 per cent to 1,426 last year from 1,134 in 2015.
“We really encourage property owners, whether business or residential, to have lighting, get alarm systems, make sure things are locked up. Your high-value items, make sure you have serial numbers for them. I have a garage bay full of property that we recovered that we can’t match up to owners because they don’t have serial numbers and makes and models.”
Project Pinpoint was launched April 6, 2016 and as of Jan. 10, Red Deer RCMP had conducted 1,116 checks on targeted people, places and criminal patterns, including 325 identified people on parole and/or probation and 132 more career criminals with an active history of property crime.
At least 394 charges have been laid as a result of Project Pinpoint during those 10 months, with more pending. More than 240 warrants were executed.