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Crime drops six per cent last year in Abbotsford

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Criminal offences in Abbotsford dropped six per cent in 2011 compared to the previous year, according to the year-end statistical report released Tuesday by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).

This brings the four-year reduction in crime – from 2007 to 2011 – to 33 per cent.

The report lists 9,049 total offences in 2011, compared to 9,636 in 2010.

Decreases were noted in almost every one of the 25 categories listed. Among the most significant drops were in the areas of murder (from four in 2010 to none in 2011), uttering threats (down 26 per cent), arson (33 per cent), vehicle theft (18 per cent) and assault (17 per cent).

Among the increases noted in 2011 compared to the previous year were fraud (up 12 per cent), causing a disturbance (13 per cent), sexual offences (six per cent) and assault with a weapon (six per cent).

Const. Ian MacDonald said the APD has worked hard on dropping its crime numbers, and it's not just following the provincial and national trends.

He said the department has recorded more significant drops in several categories than what has been reported elsewhere.

"To me, that is demonstrative of two things – hard work and an acceptance by the community about (our messaging)," he said. "Can you think of a more supportive community?"

MacDonald said this support includes citizens coming to public information sessions on the topic of gangs and drugs, and embracing the "Operation" series of anti-gang posters and videos that have been released over the last three years.

On Wednesday of this week, more than 150 people turned out for the premiere of a documentary called Operation Lodestar: Parenting Matters, in which a mom shares her perspective of losing her son to drugs and gangs.

These initiatives have resulted in more awareness and increased reporting of criminal activity in the city, MacDonald said.

"If people don't like your message or think you're off track, they're going to ignore you."

MacDonald said the APD has also increased its focus on crime analysis and the formation of units specifically focused on issues such as gang suppression, drug enforcement and crime reduction.

This has given Abbotsford the reputation among criminals as a "bad place to do business," he said, and in many cases has resulted in them leaving the community.

"The word on the street is certainly changing. There differently is a different vibe (to how criminals view Abbotsford)," he said.

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