Property crime a large issue

The largest focus for RCMP in the South Okanagan and Similkameen continues to be on property crime in all areas, but the region's top cop said the arrests of prolific criminals should help reduce those crimes and others.

The number of property crimes in the region went up eight per cent in 2017 — totalling 5,419 last year compared to 5,022 in 2016.

RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager said small groups of prolific offenders can often be attributed to a large percentage of those offences — in urban and rural areas.

He said a more regional deployment of the RCMP’s targeted enforcement unit helped take prolific criminals into custody just before Christmas — a group that he said was committing property crimes all over the region.

“It started in West Kelowna, they moved through Summerland, they hit Penticton. They took up residence in OK Falls and Oliver, and then hit all the way through Keremeos and Princeton,” De Jager said.

He said the arrests of the suspects were a result of “old-fashioned police work,” after the targeted enforcement had been heavy on their trail for two-to-three weeks prior.

“One of our junior members saw someone on the side of the road and said ‘she doesn’t belong in Naramata,’ and she was picked up and that led to the arrest of the entire group. So that was some pretty heads-up policing.”

De Jager didn’t say how many arrests were made or how many offenses the individuals were accused of, but he said the arrests will likely show in the region's overall crime numbers.

“It’s very labour intensive, but I think you’ll see at the next quarterly update that our numbers will drop with this crowd in jail.”

While property crimes increased last year, De Jager pointed out violent crimes in the region dropped six per cent — which he said can also be attributed to regional policing and the apprehension of repeated offenders.

“Those prolific offenders travel up and down the corridor. Although they are primarily focused on drugs and property crime, if we don’t keep a lid on them that’s where our violent crimes start to increase.”

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