Two types of activities are driving crime in Abbotsford, Police Chief Bob Rich told a crowd of about 350 attending the first Breakfast with the Chief event, held Wednesday at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre.
Rich said gangs and property crime are the two biggest issues police are currently facing – and both are connected to drugs.
He referenced the ongoing Townline Hill conflict in which rival gangs have been battling for drug turf, resulting in several drive-by shootings and the recent death of innocent victim Ping Shun Ao, 74, who was struck by a stray bullet.
“Drugs are the currency for gangsters … They need to make money to have the lifestyle they want … The gang violence you see is, for the most part, around the economic battle to control the drug market,” Rich said.
He said police are putting their “best resources” into ending the violence.
“I’m sorry it’s gotten as bad as it has gotten but we are not sitting on our hands going, ‘Woe is me.’ We are figuring this out. We will unlock this problem and stop these people from shooting at each other and putting other people at risk the way they’ve obviously done.”
Rich said property crime is also driven by drugs, with most offenders committing crimes such as home break-ins and vehicle thefts “for the purpose of buying more drugs for their habit.”
He said Abbotsford had recorded a 40 per cent drop in property crime in 2012. That flatlined in 2013, increased in 2014, and has been going up at an “alarming rate” this year.
“We have more prolific offenders running around Abbotsford this year than we ever have before. We have lost a tremendous amount of ground in this area,” Rich said.
He said the Abbotsford Police Department is continuing to look at solutions, including adopting new technology to help alleviate crime.
Funds raised at the Breakfast with the Chief fundraiser – also dubbed Crime is Toast – will go toward such technology. The breakfast was hosted by the Abbotsford Police Foundation, which raises money for equipment and programs not covered by the annual APD budget.
It is not yet known how much money was raised at the breakfast, which is expected to be an annual event. The goal was set at $40,000.
Read Friday’s edition of the Abbotsford News for more information on the new technology being considered.
(Photo below by Vikki Hopes: About 350 people attended the Breakfast with the Chief fundraiser on Wednesday morning at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre.)