Violent crime soars in Surrey

Property crime is down by five per cent, with the bulk of that being a drop in business break-and-enters.

Violent crime in Surrey soared by 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year, according to statistics just released by the Surrey RCMP.

Police quarterly statistics released this week compare the first three months of this year to the same period in 2014.

Police note that the figures come from one quarter and can easily represent an anomaly because of a few bad guys being released from jail.

The year-end figures from last year showed a seven-per-cent increase in violent crime from 2013 and a spike in property crime.

However, the figures from this quarter paint a different picture, albeit over a shorter time.

The total number of violent crimes in Surrey from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2015 reached 1,732 incidents – up from 1,233 from this time last year.

Some of those violent crimes came by way of a number of reports of shots fired in March.

In addition, many of those files came from street-level type crimes such as assault (up 29 per cent), abduction and/or kidnapping (up 175 per cent) and robbery (up 14 per cent).

Some of those abductions occurred as domestic calls, where a mother or father took off with a child. Others are disputes between drug dealers and their buyers.

Sex assault also climbed from 39 to 57 over the same periods, an increase of 46 per cent.

It’s important to note that sex assault often becomes classified as a different crime or is dropped altogether, so last year’s adjusted figures aren’t always a fair comparison to this year’s numbers.

There was one more homicide so far this year in comparison to last year, bringing the death toll to two so far this year from murder.

Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr said that a few criminals can skew the statistics, particularly the quarterly figures.

“Sometimes, a high number of violent crimes can be committed by a small number of individuals,” said Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr. “They can cause us a lot of grief until they are captured and put where they belong.”

Other crimes that also climbed over last year were arson (up 146 per cent), prostitution (up 45 per cent), causing a disturbance (up 51 per cent) and breach or bail violation (up 31 per cent).

The good news for police and Surrey residents is that property crimes are down by five per cent.

The biggest drop was in business break-and-enters, which plummeted by 321 from last year’s 436 – a drop of 115, or 26 per cent.

Carr said the decrease is a result of police focusing on high-risk property crime locations where they’ve apprehended repeat offenders.

Residential break-and-enters remained exactly the same at 532.

And while theft of motor vehicles jumped by five per cent, theft from vehicles dropped by 14 per cent.

Fraud and identity theft were also down significantly (26 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively).

Overall, crime climbed by seven per cent in the first three months when compared got the same period last year.

It’s the first time in a while that Newton has shown better trends than many other areas of the city.

Violent crime in Newton was up by 36 per cent, the second-lowest climb in the Surrey RCMP’s five districts.

The only area with a lower increase was Cloverdale-Port Kells, which saw a bump up in violent crime of 28 per cent.

Violent crime rose more significantly in Whalley (up 44 per cent),  Guildford (up 45 per cent) and South Surrey, which led the climb at 47 per cent.

Overall numbers of violent crimes are higher in Newton, Whalley and Guildford, but the percentage climb in South Surrey is new.

Overall crime was up 24 per cent in Whalley, 18 per cent in Cloverdale-Port Kells and one per cent in Guildford-Fleetwood.

Both Newton and South Surrey saw drops in overall crime by two per cent.

The Surrey RCMP releases crime statics every three months and issues a comprehensive year-end list of statistics.