Abbotsford Police record 29 per cent drop in crime over last three years

Year-end stats show crime has dropped in almost every category.

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has recorded a total 29 per cent drop in crime in the last three years, with reductions in almost all categories.

Preliminary year-end statistics released at last week’s police board meeting indicate that the department is on track with its goals to reduce all Criminal Code offences.

“The trend to an increasingly safer city seems to be borne out in the stats,” said Const. Ian MacDonald.

Areas in which drops were recorded last year, compared to 2010, include murder, home invasions, stolen vehicles, thefts from vehicles, and break-ins of homes and businesses.

One of the largest drops – 21 per cent – was in the number of stolen vehicles. There were 639 such crimes in 2010, compared to 505 last year.

MacDonald said the crime reduction unit can take credit for that, with an increased focus last year on keeping an eye on prolific offenders and an awareness campaign that included the distribution of free anti-theft devices to drivers of the most targeted vehicles.

The number of violent crimes was recorded as a seven per cent increase, but MacDonald said this is because of the way sexual assaults were recorded.

Last year, many of these reports were based on assaults that had occurred in years past, but they were recorded as a 2011 statistic, resulting in a 29 per cent increase in sex assaults from 2010.

MacDonald said the system was changed at the beginning of this year, and “historical” reports are now recorded under the year in which they took place.

Another large reduction – 69 per cent – was recorded in the number of fatal collisions, from 13 in 2010 to four last year. Collisions with injuries dropped 11 per cent – from 445 in 2010 to 394 last year.

MacDonald said police are still concerned about the number of crashes and fatalities and want to bring the stats down even further in 2012.

The traffic section phased in more officers in the last half of 2011, and those numbers are now where they need to be, MacDonald said. There are currently one sergeant, 10 enforcement constables, two collision reconstructionists, and one clerk.

MacDonald said there will be increased enforcement and more awareness campaigns – aimed at drivers and pedestrians – this year.

“We’re certainly hoping we’re going to see an impact in reducing injury collisions (and fatalities),” he said.

Police will release a more detailed year-end report at a later date.