Police in Nanaimo are hopeful that crime is plateauing in two areas of concern.
Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller presented crime statistics to Nanaimo city councillors at a meeting Monday and said he thinks police can help to bring crime down in the Terminal Avenue and Labieux Road areas.
Miller updated council on 2018 statistics and also some more recent numbers, including comparisons for four-month periods at Terminal and at Labieux, where temporary supportive housing was constructed at the beginning of winter.
He noted that calls for service over the same four months in 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 were 573, 660 and then 1,097 at Terminal Avenue and 217, 321 and 803 for Labieux Road.
He said that represents a 66 per cent increase in calls to service in the Terminal area, while calls to Labieux were two and a half times as many.
“There’s a very large increase which myself as a police chief and I think the community as a whole has a right to be concerned about,” Miller said.
He said he’s “re-profiled” resources to dedicate to those areas. Nanaimo RCMP is working this month on an initiative “equivalent to an RCMP task force” that Miller said “will be extended as long as they need it … I’m going to take resources because this is an area that’s affecting the community as a whole and the reputation of the city itself.”
Police are reviewing files from the two locations and are working with partners such as supportive housing operators Island Crisis Care Society and Pacifica Housing, B.C. Housing, community advisory committees and Block Watch chapters.
The RCMP superintendent said with the new measures, and some problem tenants evicted from the supportive housing, crime stats could start going in the right direction.
“What we’re seeing right now is a plateau,” Miller said. “We’re not trending up; we’re not trending down.”
Miller rounded up some of Nanaimo’s overall crime stats for January and February and noted that assaults were up from 102 to 187, an 83 per cent increase; possession of stolen property rose from 15 to 44, a 193 per cent increase; and drug trafficking was up from five to 32. Bike thefts were up 22 per cent and break-and-enters to businesses were up 50 per cent. Miller said Nanaimo had the highest spike in thefts from vehicles in all of B.C.
Coun. Ian Thorpe called the statistics “quite alarming” and Coun. Ben Geselbracht said it appears that a lot of the increase in crime is drug-related.
“People are looking for money and why are they looking for money? To support lifestyle, and generally it’s a drug sort of thing,” Miller said.