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Spike in crimes against persons likely because more residents reporting incidents, police say

There were 178 offences committed against people between January and April, which is an increase from 155 incidents — or 14.8 per cent — during the same period last year, recent statistics show. 
Bourassa, Rick 4
Police Chief Rick Bourassa speaks during the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. File photo

While crimes against people have increased nearly 15 per cent year-over-year, the police chief says it’s tough to compare data from the last few years because of past pandemic restrictions.

There were 178 offences committed against people between January and April, which is an increase from 155 incidents — or 14.8 per cent — during the same period last year, recent statistics show. 

The Moose Jaw Police Service is tracking that increase, but it’s “very difficult to measure over the past couple of years to now because of the COVID situation,” Police Chief Rick Bourassa said during the May 19 Board of Police Commissioners meeting.

“Things were very different. Our society was quite different for a while.” 

However, most pandemic restrictions have been lifted, which has allowed the police service to work closely again with its partners, he continued. This includes the Partners Against Violence group — composed of various social agencies — that worked to acknowledge Victims and Survivors of Crime Week from May 15 to 21. 

“Part of what we suspect is happening (with the increase in crimes against people) is that half the incidents that had not been reported to us before are now being reported because people are back out again … ,” Bourassa added. “We’re not inconsistent with other jurisdictions. This is a pattern that we’re seeing.”

Crimes against people

Data for crimes against people from January to April in 2022 versus 2021 shows:

  • Homicide: 1 / 0
  • Attempted murder: 0 / 1
  • Assaults (sexual, common, with a weapon/cause bodily harm, aggravated, against police): 110 / 83
  • Robbery: 6 / 0
  • Threats: 27 / 16
  • Domestic disputes: 34 / 55

Meanwhile, total crimes against property dipped 6.6 per cent year over year, with 368 related offences committed during the first four months of this year versus 394 incidents during the same period last year, the data shows. 

As before, Bourassa cautioned against comparing data for this year against last year’s information since society was different in 2021 and restrictions were in place. However, he noted that the police service is pleased to see the number of property crimes decreasing across the board, including break-ins, “which have been a challenge for us.”

One area Bourassa singled out is motor vehicle thefts (MVT), with 19 such thefts year-to-date versus 16 incidents year-to-date last year, an increase of 18.8 per cent. He noted that the police have been investigating those thefts and have recovered many of the vehicles. 

Crimes against property

Data for crimes against property from January to April in 2022 versus 2021 shows:

  • Break-ins (business, residence, other): 64 / 103
  • Theft over $5,000: 5 / 6
  • Theft under $5,000: 207 / 171
  • Arson: 5 / 5
  • Mischief under $5,000: 68 / 93

Other crimes

Other crimes from January to April in 2022 versus 2021 show:

  • Impaired driving: 37 / 31
  • Failing to comply with court orders: 304 / 232
  • Pandemic responses: 7 / 60
  • Vehicle accidents over $1,000: 99 / 70
  • Provincial liquor infractions: 36 / 53

Drugs

There have been 11 drug offences year-to-date compared to 20 during the same period last year, with declines in marijuana, meth and other CDSA drugs but a slight increase in cocaine. 

“A lot of those are incidents we come across when investigating other things,” said Bourassa. “Sometimes these numbers will jump, and we will see these numbers jump when we are running a project that comes to completion, and we lay a large number of charges and lay seizures. 

“Those numbers are very much enforcement driven.”

Overall, the police have responded to 5,362 calls for service year-to-date compared to 4,618 calls during the same period last year, a jump of 16.1 per cent. 

The next Board of Police Commissioners meeting is Thursday, June 9.