COVID-19 is being cited as the possible reason for a declining crime rate in Langley City.
Coun. Nathan Pachal, chair of the Crime Prevention Task Group, has released figures showing a year-to-year drop in calls for service to RCMP for the months of April (5.9 per cent down compared to that month in 2019), May (14.6 per cent down) , June (14.5 per cent below June 2019), July (down 13.5 per cent), August (18.3 per cent), September (16.2 per cent), and October 15.4 per cent).
Pachal said the numbers have have “decreased significantly.”
“The crime rate is down and calls for service are down.”
Before the pandemic hit, calls for service were up, in January compared to the previous year (an increase of 4.3 per cent), as well as February (5.2 per cent), and March (1.8 per cent), the month restrictions started being imposed.
Graphic from sfb.nathanpachal.com.
A call for service is recorded whenever someone contacts the RCMP, by dialing 911, the non-emergency line at 604-532-3200, or using the online crime reporting tool for less serious crime involving amounts under $5,000.
Pachal said he’s heard two possible explanations for the drop.
One is that with more people staying at home, property-related crime is discouraged.
The other is that, with COVID-19 benefits from the federal government, people who might be committing crimes “have an income” and are less likely to steal.
Township of Langley crime stats for the same period show a similar trend, with one exception.
Calls for service were up prior to the onset of the pandemic, with a 2.4 per cent increase in January 2020 and a 5.7 per cent hike in February compared to the same months in 2019.
In March, calls were up just one per cent, but in April, they rose by 11.6 per cent, during a time when mail theft incidents spiked.
After that, there was a drop every month.
May recorded a 6.5 per cent reduction, June was down 10.8 per cent, July was down 3.7 per cent, August dropped 8.0 per cent, September was down 3.0 per cent and calls were 3.4 per cent lower in October.
READ MORE: Mail theft more than doubles in Langley City
COVID-19 is also considered a factor that drove up mail theft earlier in the year, with with the distribution of Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) cheques triggering a wave of break-ins to condo buildings, community mailboxes, porches and individual mailboxes.
Province-wide, crime was up last year, with B.C. reporting the largest increase since 1998.
Criminal code violations increased by just over 18 per cent, driven by a jump in impaired driving incidents of 44 per cent, a rise in robberies of 13 per cent and a 40 per cent increase in criminal harassment cases.
RCMP said part of the reason for last year’s crime spike were revisions to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey on definitions of founded and unfounded incidents.