Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jager speaks at the policing forum held Wednesday night.

Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jager speaks at the policing forum held Wednesday night.

Police Forum: Theft was top call in Mission in 2015

Mission RCMP dealt with 1,415 theft files, 75 per cent of those involved theft from vehicles.

Mission RCMP responded to 17,098 files in 2015, an increase of about 2,000 from the previous year.

According to Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jager, 14,000 to 15,000 files is the norm for the district.

“So there was a big spike last year bringing us up to 17,000 and we’re on track this year to hit 17,000 as well, he said.

However, less than half of those files can result in chargeable offences.

“All the rest of them are everything from mental health calls to assistance calls,” he explained.

De Jager made the comments to a crowd of about 200 people who came out to the second annual Policing Forum, held at the Mission Leisure Centre on Wednesday night.

The forum provides the public a chance to ask questions and provide input to the district’s top Mountie before he prepares a list of policing priorities to be presented before council.

“I think we are all in agreement that property crime is going to be one of our priorities, without a doubt,” he said.

Other possible priorities include traffic enforcement and disorder in the downtown area and at Stave West.

The top call for service in Mission in 2015 was theft. There were 1,415 files, 75 per cent of those involved theft from vehicles.

Traffic offences were second with 947 files.

Other files that made the top-20 list include 759 false alarm calls (sixth on the list), 539 accidental or abandoned 911 calls (11th) and 327 suspicious vehicle calls (17th).

Despite the recent series of break-ins in the downtown area, the RCMP only responded to 391 break and enter files, putting it in 14th place.

Of the top 20 crimes, none were violent. In fact, only four per cent (699) of all files in 2015 were considered violent crimes against a person. Thirty per cent were domestic violence.

The majority of the remaining 70 per cent involved a known attacker – people who know each other getting into disagreements.

“It’s very rare that a stranger attacks another stranger. It does happen, but not often.”

De Jager said he has seen many comments on social media about stating the downtown area is not safe. He disagrees.

“I would not feel unsafe having my wife walking downtown by herself because this is a safe town. There are people who need help. There are people who are just bad people and we will go after those people.

“The reality is, the town is very safe.”

He said there is a need to change the perception that there is something nefarious going on in the community.

“About 90 per cent of the crime in this town is created by probably 20 to 50 people,” he said adding that prolific offenders need to be targeted.

He also said there is a need to look at root causes like addiction, because the police won’t be able to “arrest our way out” of the problem.

“The majority of those property offenders are drug-driven. They are desperate for their drug fix. And if you think that our way forward is to lock them up and throw away the key, it’s not going to work.”

Echoing his message from last year’s forum, De Jager said the community, government and resource groups all have to work together to resolve those issues.