The City of Red Deer experienced more crime in 2019 than in 2018, according to recent data from Statistics Canada.
But the numbers don’t paint a true picture of the situation, says Red Deer RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier.
The crime severity index was up about 16 per cent in 2019 (197.95) compared to 2018 (170.75).
The violent crime severity index, for offences such as murder, robbery, sexual assault and assaults, was up 36.92 per cent (155.62 in 2019 and 113.66 in 2018).
The non-violent, non-person crime severity index was up 11.44 per cent – 212.71 in 2019, compared to 190.88 in 2018. These crimes include thefts of motor vehicles, theft from motor vehicles and house break-ins.
Grobmeier said “an increase is something we never want to see.”
But most of that spike came from the first quarter of 2019, and by the end of the year, numbers went down, he said.
“January, February, March of 2019 were a difficult time in Red Deer for crime, so we had a significant spike, and throughout the rest of the year, we saw the numbers come down, and the last two quarters were either equal to or better than 2018.”
Comparing the first quarter of 2019 and the later part of the same year, Grobmeier said, thefts of motor vehicles, for example, were up by 100 per cent, but then came down to 19 per cent.
“It was just that first quarter that was very bad.”
In 2020, the same decreasing trend has continued.
Grobmeier said until the end of October of this year, break and enters have dropped by 16 per cent, theft of motor vehicles have dropped by 37 per cent, theft under $5,000 has dropped by 26 per cent, and total property crime is down by around 23 per cent.
“We’ve seen significant drops in our crime that are even superior to 2018,” said Grobmeier.
He said the numbers for 2020, whenever they come out, will reflect the more recent drops in crime.
“We’ve been showing significant decreases to last year, so rest assured, it’s nice to see our numbers have dropped this year, and I understand there will be some anxiety with our crime severity index, but again, those are already 11 months old and our current stats are far superior.”
Red Deer was ranked the 10th most dangerous place in Canada, based on overall crime, according to rankings by Maclean’s magazine released in November 2019. Those numbers were based on the crime severity index in 2018.
The numbers showed the city’s crime severity index was 170, compared with the Canadian average of 75.01.
The recent drops in crime numbers could be related to COVID, but there are a variety of factors, including the work the officers are putting in, said Grobmeier.
For example, weather plays a role.
Crime relating to motor vehicles was up in the first quarter of last year likely due to the cold weather, said Grobmeier.
“It was our coldest winter in a long, long time, and that drives up theft of motor vehicles and break and enters.”
Grobmeier said the Red Deer RCMP is proud of the more recent decreases in crime and knows there is more work to be done.
“We’ll be continuing to work and make a positive impact.”
The same Statistics Canada numbers show an increase in the crime severity index of about 18 per cent in 2019, compared to 2018, for the City of Lacombe.
For the Town of Sylvan Lake, the increase was about 22 per cent, and about 35 per cent in the Town of Rocky Mountain House.
The City of Wetaskiwin’s crime severity index was up about 20 per cent in 2019, compared to 2018, while the Town of Blackfalds saw an increase of about 33 per cent. The Town of Ponoka experienced an increase of about 15 per cent.