Fraser Valley police forces seek to stamp out property crime increase

Team of Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission officers to push for stiffer sentences for offenders who refuse help leaving criminal lifestyle.

Police forces in Mission

Police forces in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission have teamed up to try to quell an increase in property crime in the Fraser Valley.

The Abbotsford Police Department and Chilliwack and Mission RCMP detachments have all contributed officers to a unit dedicated to targeting property crime in the three cities. Seven officers – three from Abbotsford and two each from Chilliwack and Mission – form the core of the unit, which began its work earlier this month and has the ability to access other resources, like helicopters or emergency response teams as the need arises.

The initiative – dubbed Project Valley Sweep – is in response to rising property crime statistics across the three communities. The number of stolen vehicles, thefts from vehicles and break and enters all rose by more than 20 per cent in 2015. The property crime team will target the repeat and chronic offenders responsible for many of the incidents.

But the aim isn’t just to put those criminals in prison, Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said. With addiction issues often driving property crime, MacDonald said officers will have “heart-to-heart conversations” with chronic offenders and hope to place those who want help in fighting their addiction.

“We want to assist them in breaking that cycle,” he said. “What we want to do is actually create some solutions.”

But the unit will also seek to come down hard on those who don’t want to change their ways.

“We will also be working with Crown Counsel and Regional Probation to advocate for stiffer sentences for those unwilling to make efforts to change their behaviours,” said Abbotsford Chief Constable Bob Rich.

The aim is to match criminals’ tendency to roam between communities, and the unit will draw on crime analysts to determine where and how to focus its attentions.

“This Joint Forces Operation allows us to target the offenders who create the most havoc for our communities and hold them accountable to their court imposed conditions,” said Insp. Ted De Jager, the detachment commander of the Mission RCMP.