By Lyonel Doherty
An RCMP report indicates that violent crime, domestic violence and property crime are up in Oliver compared to the first quarter of 2017.
This was outlined in Superintendent Ted de Jager’s quarterly report that he presented to the regional district last Thursday. The report specifically refers to statistics for January to March 2018.
De Jager said more than 60 per cent of their police calls for service do not have a solution that can be implemented by police action (such as charges).
“Imagine if we could house the homeless and release the addictions of many people you see wandering the streets.”
The superintendent said there is a common misconception that the homeless and street people commit most of the crime in the region.
“While it is true that many of our social concerns are reflected in this group, the reality of crime is that the majority is committed by prolific offenders, most of whom are not homeless at all.”
Overall, violent crime and property crime are down significantly in the region, de Jager said. He noted the majority of violent crime is committed by an offender known to the victim.
He pointed out that theft from auto is still the single highest crime type over last year, and it’s growing.
“What will it take to stop this since the majority of this crime occurs when valuables are left in plain view inside unlocked vehicles?”
De Jager said people have the power to stop this crime in its tracks.
Speaking about Oliver, the superintendent said violent crime is up 171 per cent compared to 2017. (Much of this is due to incidents in the Okanagan Correctional Centre.)
In the first quarter of 2017, there were 14 incidents of violent crime, compared to 38 in the first quarter of this year.
Domestic violence in Oliver is up 33 per cent, from three incidents in the first quarter of last year to four incidents this year.
De Jager said property crime in Oliver is up 34 per cent, from 93 incidents in the first quarter of 2017 to 125 incidents this year.
Residential break-ins are up 240 per cent in Oliver, from five to 17 incidents.
Business break-ins are up 50 percent, from four to six incidents. Theft from vehicles in Oliver is down 17 per cent, from 18 incidents to 15.
De Jager mentioned some major investigations in the region, including the break and enter to a large construction site at Phanton Creek Wines in Oliver. The value of the theft was approximately $270,000, but the local RCMP were able to recover the majority of equipment to a value of $230,000.
The superintendent also mentioned a recycling container fire behind Oliver Place Mall. A male suspect was arrested the same day. But 10 days later the same man was arrested for using an axe to break into a local business. During this arrest he attempted to strike an RCMP dog with the axe, de Jager said.
Using a bit of science and technology,
police responded to a break-in at a winery in Naramata. Officers obtained footwear impressions which were linked to several break-ins in Penticton and Summerland. The impressions were then linked to the footwear of a man in custody, who admitted to the crimes.
In February, two Osoyoos members responded quickly to the Bridesville area after receiving reports of a distraught male. Members located the 53-year-old man who was on Canyon Bridge within intentions to jump.
“They were able to safely take the male into custody and turn him over to medical professionals. The male thanked the members for saving his life,” de Jager said.
In another case, an Osoyoos member working a tip attended a residence and apprehended a non-Canadian female who had been avoiding immigration authorities since 2012. The 56-year-old female was found hiding in the residence and later turned over to border officials.
After a lengthy hunt for a stolen vehicle in Penticton, members located it stuck in the snow in a driveway on Apex Road. Upon approaching the vehicle, officers observed the occupant put a revolver to her head.
“Investigators engaged the driver in conversation and negotiated with her to drop the gun and exit the vehicle,” de Jager said.
The driver exited but still had the firearm in her hand. However, further negotiation resulted in her throwing the firearm aside and being safely taken into custody.
De Jager told the tale of one driver who was nabbed after 30 calls from the public regarding his excessive speed. He was reported driving faster than 160 km/h, tailgating and cutting people off. But it wasn’t long before police joined forces to stop him in his tracks and impound his vehicle.
De Jager reported another incident where police dog Harro and his handler searched in deep snow for three hours before locating a missing man who could have succumbed to hypothermia. Unfortunately, the police dog team had a three-hour return trip home.
“Harro appreciated the deep snow more than his snowshoe-wearing partner.”
In closing, De Jager reported that Cst. James Grandy, who used to work in Oliver, has begun his duties reaching out to mental health clients. This relatively new program is tasked with developing local partnerships dealing with mental health, addictions and homelessness.