Crime down seven per cent, say Abbotsford Police

Abbotsford Police recorded a drop in most crimes in 2010, but two areas – vehicle-related fatalities and home break-ins – went up, according to year-end statistics.

Abbotsford Police are concerned about the number of vehicle-related fatalities

Abbotsford Police are concerned about the number of vehicle-related fatalities

Abbotsford Police recorded a drop in most crimes in 2010, but two areas – vehicle-related fatalities and home break-ins – went up, according to year-end statistics.

Deputy Chief Rick Lucy, speaking at Tuesday’s police board meeting, said the department can be proud of its successes last year, including a seven per cent drop in total criminal code offences.

There were 9,551 offences last year, compared to 10,225 in 2009.

Significant decreases were noted in violent gang-related activity, including the number of serious “shots fired” incidents. These dropped 65 per cent, from 17 in 2009 to six last year.

Homicides were also down last year, from 11 in 2009 to four in 2010, as were attempted murders (four in 2009 and none last year).

This decrease means that Abbotsford is unlikely to retain its title as “murder capital of Canada” when national crime statistics are released later this year.

Const. Ian MacDonald has said the decrease can be attributed to the arrests of high-profile gang members and initiatives that were developed to tackle the problem, including the formation in April of the gang suppression task force.

Police are now hoping to use that same increased focus to address the main area of concern from 2010: vehicle-related fatalities. There were 15 such deaths – many involving pedestrians – last year, compared to six in the previous 12 months.

“Traffic fatalities were a problem in 2010, no doubt about it,” Lucy said.

Police are planning to step up enforcement at key intersections, issuing violation tickets to drivers and pedestrians, and increasing awareness of the problem.

They are also planning to address the issue of home break-ins, which rose nine per cent last year, with 443 such crimes compared to 408 in 2009. Business break-ins, on the other hand, experienced a 38 per cent drop.

MacDonald said police will focus more attention on prolific break-in offenders in much the same way they have targeted gang members – by checking up on them on regular basis to ensure they are following their parole or bail conditions, for example.

Police will also hold meetings to inform the public on how they can protect themselves from such crimes, he said.

Other year-end stats:

– total property crimes dropped seven per cent, from 6,081 in 2009 to 5,649 in 2010;

– violent crimes were down 10 per cent (from 427 to 385);

– theft of motor vehicles decreased 14 per cent (from 742 to 635);

– theft from motor vehicles was down five per cent (1,324 to 1,264);

– the total number of calls to police rose 10 per cent (49,959 to 54,729).