During the first six months of this year, the number of break-ins to businesses and commercial properties was up 47.9 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Property crime was significantly up in several Vancouver neighbourhoods between January and June, the Vancouver police reported Thursday.
Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow says that during the pandemic the number of commercial break-and-enters rose, especially in Chinatown, the West End, Yaletown and Strathcona. During the first six months of this year, the number of break-ins to businesses and other commercial properties was up 47.9 per cent in Vancouver from the same period last year.
“Although Vancouver residents did their best to stay home and stop the spread of COVID, VPD officers could not do the same as crime continued,” Chow said during a news conference in Vancouver on Thursday. “We know that many of these break-ins happened because businesses were closed and unstaffed for several weeks. Chronic property offenders saw this as a golden opportunity.”
Although commercial break-and-enters were up, overall property crime was down by 12.9 per cent because of a significant decrease in auto theft as a result of fewer cars being parked on the streets, Chow said.
Violent crime increased by 5.2 per cent driven by an increase in the number of serious assaults, said Chow.
“I’m so concerned about the increase in violence and serious crimes and street disorder in some of the neighbourhoods like Strathcona, Yaletown, Chinatown and the West End,” he said.
In the downtown area to the end of July, thefts had gone up 36 per cent, calls for weapons were up 11 per cent and, in Yaletown, commercial break-and-enters spiked 58 per cent.
Assaults were up 16 per cent and, in Strathcona, where a tent city has grown to hundreds of tents in the park, weapons calls were up 50 per cent.
In Chinatown, violent crime was up 17 per cent and commercial break-ins were up 60 per cent compared with this period last year.
“Sometimes statistics don’t always show the whole picture because people don’t always call police,” said Chow, who added that the Vancouver police has added more police officers to patrol the areas that have been hardest hit by crime.
Chow added there has been an uptick in the number of guns seized, both replica and real ones, including a loaded rifle that was found in a bag in an alley in Strathcona.
He said, in Yaletown, police have been called out 450 times to the areas of the hotels where homeless people were given shelter because of the pandemic. Chow said that compares with 45 calls in Yaletown during the same period.
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