Abbotsford has a lower rate of property crime than its neighbouring cities, according to statistics released by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).
So far this year, the city has tallied 22.42 property crimes – such as break-ins and car thefts – per 1,000 people.
This is the lowest rate among seven other municipalities. Coquitlam is second (25.71), followed by Ridge Meadows (31.1), Vancouver (31.38), Mission (36.87), Surrey (36.88), Langley (37.54) and Chilliwack (40.86).
The figures were released during a recent property-crime presentation at the Abbotsford Police Board.
Const. John Janela of the crime reduction unit and APD crime analyst Tracy Van Asseldonk also released figures showing that, from 2008 to 2012, the city recorded a 70 per cent reduction in business break-ins, a 45 drop in home break-ins, and a 73 per cent decrease in stolen cars and thefts from vehicles.
Janela said much of those drops can be attributed to a “property crime reduction initiative” established by the APD in 2008.
The program currently has six officers and a supervisor, who, in consultation with Van Asseldonk, identify crime trends and target potential offenders.
Janela said the APD keeps tabs on known property offenders residing in the community. There are currently more than 100 on their radar and, of those, 14 have been identified as “prolific” offenders (10 to 29 criminal convictions) and nine are “super prolific” (30 or more convictions).
Janela said, under the Prolific Offender Management program, these individuals are offered support services in the community to help manage their behavior.
“If they don’t engage in those support services and they go into a pattern of re-offending, then they’ll be dealing with us – and they often do,” he said.
Crime analysis can be used to hone in on a suspect when there is, for example, a rash of stolen cars.
Van Asseldonk said offenders’ past behavior can help determine who might be involved in a particular crime based on the time of day, the day of the week and the area of the city it occurred.
Developer Karen Matty, a member of the Abbotsford Police Board, said the strategies seem to be working.
She said she has noticed a significant drop in the number of break-ins occurring at the Gateway development, located at Marshall and McCallum roads.
Several years ago, businesses in the development were recording break-ins about every two months.
“We never get them anymore … I think it’s been almost two years now. It’s really rare … It feels good in the community to be on top of this,” Matty said.
Police Chief Bob Rich said, although the figures are commendable, Abbotsford is not doing as well as cities such as Oak Bay and Saanich.
“Those are places we’re still chasing if we’re trying to be the safest city in B.C.,” he said, referencing the APD’s long-term goal.