Crime stats don’t tell whole story: Sylan RCMP

The alarm isn’t being raised in Sylvan Lake despite a spike in some key crime statistics.

The alarm isn’t being raised in Sylvan Lake despite a spike in some key crime statistics.

In a recent report from RCMP to town council, significant jumps were seen in the number of crimes reported in some key categories.

Break and enters were up nearly 26 per cent over the first 10 months of the year compared to 2011; thefts of motor vehicles were up 171 per cent; thefts over $5,000 were up 46 per cent; and fraud was up 37 per cent.

Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, said Staff Sgt. Gary Rhodes, who heads the town’s 14-strong detachment, plus six officers for the surrounding rural area.

“I would say right off the get go that we ignore the percentages,” said Rhodes.

By way of example, he points to reports of criminal harassment, which jumped 140 per cent to 48 to the end of October compared with 20 over the same period a year earlier. That’s an additional 28 reports of criminal harassment (not necessarily resulting in charges) in a town of 12,000.

“If you look at it that way, is that significant? Those are very small numbers considering the population.”

Rhodes said where statistics prove most useful is when trying to identify crime trends.

“If we see a rash of something going on we zero in on that.”

For instance, the latest numbers prompted a closer look at vehicle thefts.

What police found is enlightening. Of the 38 thefts reported this year (compared with 14 over the same 10 months in 2011), 15 vehicles were not stolen, but were towed by the bylaw department. Twelve were vehicles left unlocked with keys in the ignition and taken for joy rides, dumped and later recovered. Only four were stolen and taken away.

Police checked to see if there were any trends among those stolen, such as time and location, make and whether there were suspects. There were no common factors to suggest an organized group at work.

Trends also paint a different picture when taken over a long period.

Between 2006 and 2011, total reports crimes against people increased 18 per cent — to 211 from 179.

That’s not much of an increase when population growth is taken into account, Rhodes said.

Break and enters actually decreased by 21 per cent over the same period, and motor vehicles went from 55 in 2006, soared to 83 in 2007, and plummeted to 18 last year.

Total property crimes were 20 per cent over the same period, and all Criminal Code offences were down about 17 per cent, although they will be up over last year by the end of 2012.

Rhodes likens crime statistics to an ocean wave.

“It goes up and it goes down, and there are a lot of factors that come into play,” he said. The economy, demographics, police resources, which criminals are on the loose, all come into play.

Overall, Sylvan Lake’s crime rate falls below the provincial average.

Mayor Susan Samson agreed that statistics can’t be taken at face value. “When you look at statistics, they can be interpreted in so many different ways.”

As part of this year’s budget review, council decided against putting in a request to RCMP for an additional police officer. It will be revisited in the 2014 budget.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Trudeau rejects Alberta cabinet minister accusation PM wants COVID-19 health disaster

Most Read