Qualicum crime rate lowest in a decade

Staff Sergeant Brian Hunter details the drop in crime in Qualicum Beach. - Neil Horner photo
Staff Sergeant Brian Hunter details the drop in crime in Qualicum Beach.
— image credit: Neil Horner photo

The crime rate in Qualicum Beach is the lowest it has been in at least a decade, says the area’s top cop, but that doesn’t mean people can let down their guard.

Staff Sergeant Brian Hunter made the comments as he appeared before Monday night’s town council meeting to give a report on crime in the community.

“Our crime rate here is 53 crimes per 1,000 population, while the provincial average for communities between 5,000 and 15,000 population is 117,” Hunter said. “We enjoy a very low crime rate in this town.”

Hunter credited the low rate to strong community partnerships, both with town staff and community groups such as Citizens On Patrol.

Hunter said 2010 saw 36 cases of assault in the community, up from 2009’s 29 cases. However, he noted it tied with 2008.

Business break and enters dropped significantly last year, he said, from 44 to 18.

“We can attribute that decrease mainly because there was a significant increase in 2009,” Hunter said. “Many of those crimes were committed in the first quarter of that year, prior to a significant arrest.”

Similarly, he said, residential break and enters dropped from 46 to 13.

“Once again, that’s a result of a significant arrest we made in the community,” Hunter said. Thefts of motor vehicles nudged upwards from 10 to 15 in 2010, but Hunter noted this is still a significant decrease from 2008, when there were 33.

Thefts from motor vehicles also rose, from 61 in 2009 to 82 last year.

“The majority were made in the first half of the year, when we made a key arrest in July,” he said. “There were very few after that time.”

Hunter noted as well that there were 97 cases in 2008.

Thefts in the community dropped from 76 cases in 2009 to 69 last year, while mischief complaints dipped from 78 to 75. In 2008, he pointed out, there were 146 reported mischief cases.

“We are at half of what we were in 2008, but we have a long way to go,” he said. “I don’t think anyone will be happy until that is zero, and we are striving for that.”

Drug offences, including possession, grow ops and trafficking, rose from nine incidents to 15, but Hunter stressed this doesn’t necessarily mean there is a drug crime wave in town.

“That increase is due in part to increased enforcement in our community,” he said.

Similarly, traffic offences rose, from 592 to 872, but he said this doesn’t mean drivers are getting worse, but rather that police are more vigilant.

Overall, he said, Qualicum Beach residents can rest easy that they live in a safe community — but they can’t rest on their laurels.

“This is the lowest crime rate in over a decade this community has seen, and it will be very similar in 2010,” he said. “By no means can we let our guard down or back off on the gas pedal. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to come here and do this because there is no crime, but I’m a realistic man and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

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