Crime in Sidney and North Saanich returning to pre-pandemic levels

Crime has risen in the Sydney/North Saanich RCMP precinct, new figures show.

Crime in major crime categories will rise by 24 per cent in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to a new report, Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley presented to Sydney City Council on Monday. There will be 956 criminal offenses in the first nine months of 2022, up from 772 and an increase of 24%, the data showed.

The report said crime numbers were returning to pre-pandemic levels. But the report cautioned against reading too much into the increase. It said a more accurate comparison would be the three-year average from 2017 to 2019. “By this calculation, (criminal code) crime in 2022 to date is below the average of 1056 in the three years preceding the pandemic.”

The largest increase was in the category of crimes against the person, which increased 49 percent to 257 crimes compared to the same period in 2021.

Looking at specific neighborhoods, crimes in Sydney rose 34 per cent to 462, while crimes in North Saanich rose 19 per cent to 311. Both communities have witnessed significant increases in crimes against the person. Sidney’s number rose 78 percent to 123, while North Saanich’s number rose 43 percent to 60.

However, Sidney seems to have absorbed most of the new property crimes. Sydney rose 41 per cent to 236 points and North Saanich rose just 10 per cent to 166 points.

“The (Sydney) increase is due to a wave of graffiti investigations during the summer months, increased fraud reports due to media/educational initiatives and reports of shoplifting, which are returning to pre-pandemic numbers,” the report famously said.

That said, property crime in Sydney is well below the three-year average and has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Looking at other categories, North Saanich recorded a 13 per cent drop in recorded controlled drug and substance offenses to seven, while Sydney saw a 20 per cent rise in this category to six.

Local police continued to tackle scams, with reports of such scams up 45 per cent. “This increase may be partially attributable to fraud awareness campaigns beginning in March 2022,” the report states. While the number of reported frauds has increased, scammers have become less successful as reported losses have dropped by 54% to $188,101.

“Even in cases where scammers were successful in obtaining money from victims initially, these victims were able to recognize that they had been scammed earlier in the scam before sending more money,” the report said. This greatly reduces losses.”

The report also determined that the average age of local victims was 66.

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