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Crime down in Parksville despite gang of thieves from Nanaimo

Aggressive panhandlers, a gang of thieves from Nanaimo, a wanted man still on the loose.

While it sounds dramatic for a small city like Parksville, the region's top cop assured city council last week all is well.

Oceanside RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Hunter said he takes a walk in civilian clothes many nights along the boardwalk. He also took in Canada Day festivities, with thousands of people in Community Park until the late hours of the night. He said that busy event generated zero calls for service from the public to the RCMP.

"It was a fantastic turnout and very well organized," Hunter told council as he delivered his semi-annual report on crime statistics. "What a vibrant community we have."

Hunter went through statistics that showed most incidents of crime are down this year compared to the first six months of 2013. One notable increase was break and enter to residences (17 this year, eight last year).

Hunter said he attributes most of that increase to a group of eight people from Nanaimo who came to the Parksville Qualicum Beach area on June 3.

"They went on a crime spree," said Hunter.

The staff sergeant also spoke about a man police are still looking for (as of Aug. 7) in connection to outstanding arrest warrants for break and entry, 28-year-old Matthew Ostrander.

"We believe he is still in the community," said Hunter. "He is quite an elusive character."

Council was able to ask Hunter some questions after the report, and they centred around driving infractions, dogs in hot cars and aggressive panhandling. Hunter said police arrested one man recently who was sticking his head into vehicles, aggressively asking for money.

Coun. Carrie Powell-Davidson asked what the public should do, including smashing windows, when an overheating dog is noticed inside a locked vehicle.

"I would leave the window smashing to us," said Hunter. "I'd prefer you call the detachment."

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