Crime rate, severity index up in Chilliwack and across Canada

Crime in Chilliwack rose in 2015 over 2014 but is overall down considerably from 10 years ago. - Photo illustration
Crime in Chilliwack rose in 2015 over 2014 but is overall down considerably from 10 years ago.
— image credit: Photo illustration

While crime in Chilliwack and across the province was on a 12-year decline, there was a bump up in the crime rate and the crime severity index for 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

Across Canada the traditional police-reported crime rate, which measures the volume of reported crime relative to the population size, increased in 2015 by three per cent.

In Chilliwack, the crime rate was up 7.8 per cent in 2015 over 2014 placing the city fourth highest out of 20 Lower Mainland communities from Hope to West Vancouver.

Hope had the highest crime rate followed by the City of Langley then Mission.

The more modern measure used is the crime severity index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime.

Here, too, Chilliwack’s rose by eight per cent from 2014 putting it fifth in the Lower Mainland one spot behind Surrey. That 2014 rate itself was up 9.8 per cent over 2013, before which it was on a steady decline.

Tops for CSI was Langley, then Hope, then Mission.

And while Canada-wide the CSI grew five per cent from 2014 to 2015, it was still 31 per cent lower than a decade earlier in 2005.

While Statistics Canada is releasing data for 2015, already in Chilliwack in 2016 some crimes are on the rise.

In June, as city hall announced the hiring of 10 new RCMP officers for 2017 and unveiled a new online tool to track crimes by neighbourhood, RCMP Supt. Deanne Burleigh said year-to-date property crime was up 33 per cent so far over 2015. Also, at that time, auto theft was up 38 per cent, theft from auto 57 per cent and weapons offences up 114 per cent.

The hiring of new Mounties for next year will cost approximately $1.5 million as the city portion of 90 per cent of each officer.

(See below for three comments from readers on how they feel about crime in Chilliwack.)

City council is well aware of recent increases, and Mayor Sharon Gaetz said the RCMP’s own statistics have helped them plan for the future.

“Chilliwack is not unique and we know that crime is on the rise in most Fraser Valley communities,” she said. “To address the rising crime trend, the RCMP recently collaborated with the Mission RCMP and the Abbotsford Police Department on Project Valley Sweep, which resulted in approximately 100 charges and arrests. Our RCMP have put an emphasis on solving crimes and putting people in jail, and we are glad to see the weighted clearance rate increase as a result.”

That weighted clearance rate, defined as the proportion of criminal incidents solved by police, did increase 15 per cent last year but is still quite low. Chilliwack’s rate was 19.8 per cent ranking it 17th out of 20 communities. To compare, Abbotsford’s was 24.38, Vancouver’s 24.71 and the B.C.-wide rate was 27.18. Only Burnaby, Langley (township) and Surrey had lower clearance rates.

As for specific violations, according to the data, a number of crimes saw a bump in 2015 but most are well down from over a decade ago.

There were 6,060 property crime violations in Chilliwack in 2015 up from 5,417 in 2014, much lower than the 7,658 in 2006.

Total break-and-enters were down to 712 in 2015 from 725 in 2014 and nearly half of the 1,333 in 2006.

Motor vehicle theft similarly spiked up to 519 incidents in 2014 from a 10-year low of 362 in 2014, but well down from the 1,106 in 2006.

There were 422 level one assaults in 2015 up from 384 in 2014 but down from 723 in 2006.

Child pornography charges, however, have seen a steady increase with zero in 2006, fewer than 10 each year from 2007 to 2012, then 11 in 2013, 45 in 2014 and 30 last year.

Gaetz pointed to the fact that many of the issues related to crime—drug addiction, mental health, gang activity and sentencing—fall under provincial responsibility.

“Last year, Chilliwack brought a prolific offender resolution to [the Union of B.C. Municipalities]. The resolution, which asks the province to find a way to stop the cycle of crime, was passed unanimously, demonstrating that this is an issue faced across B.C.”


We asked how you feel about local crime

Natasha Peters

“I feel like crime is inescapable. No matter which neighbourhood you live in, there’s always going to be crime. Personally, I think crime as a whole is only being exaggerated in recent years due to social media. We’re hearing more and more about ‘petty crimes,’ and the citizens reporting them are leaving hyperbolic comments, causing a domino effect to spread through the minds of the city’s residents. It’s nothing more than a giant game of telephone.”


Brandi Mae Lane

“I feel like we hear about criminal activity a lot sooner due to social media. It does appear that crime rates have gone up or increased. I live right in the core of downtown Five Corners area. I am afraid to walk alone after the sun goes down. Alcohol and drugs have taken over the streets. I believe this is the cause for increased crimes. Also believe this is the cause for increase in rentals making it harder for people to find a decent place to live.”


Larina Dee

“We’re definitely hearing more about it thanks to social media...but stats show crime IS increasing. Putting our heads in the sand won’t solve the problem, neither will brushing it off as a ‘boogeyman under the bed on Facebook.’ Alcohol, drugs, and the housing crisis have most certainly contributed to the crime rate increase. I wouldn’t say I feel unsafe, because I take now-necessary extra measures to protect myself and my home, but I do feel angry and frustrated.”

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