Statistically, you were more likely to be murdered in Newton last year than in any other community in Surrey, according to 2013 crime figures just released by Surrey RCMP.
That said, the chance of being killed is also statistically remote. Police say 17 of the record 25 murders in Surrey last year involved people living at-risk lifestyles.
The 2013 RCMP statistics show violent crime across the city was down eight per cent last year over the prior year, while homicide was up 127 per cent.
Nine of the 25 murders occurred in Newton, while eight were in Whalley.
(Four bodies in Newton were found on Colebrook Road early in 2013).
Another five murders took place in the RCMP district serving Guildford and Fleetwood; two were in South Surrey; and Cloverdale/Port Kells recorded only one.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr said Friday the problem with isolating a murder to any one community is that the crime could have taken place elsewhere. Statistics simply show where the body was found.
Newton was also the riskiest spot in Surrey last year for sex assaults, with 106 occurring in that community last year. It represented a 29-per-cent increase over the year prior.
Whalley was just behind with 98 sex assaults in 2013, also an increase of 29 per cent.
There were 43 sex assaults in Guildford/Fleetwood (down seven per cent); 31 in Cloverdale/Port Kells (up 72 per cent); and 21 in South Surrey (up 91 per cent).
Carr said Mounties have been on a campaign to encourage people to report sex assaults. The higher numbers, he said, are a result of that initiative.
“We will likely continue to see that number rise, only because people are becoming braver to report it,” Carr said. “Because it’s such a horrific crime, oftentimes the victims want to leave it behind them and do not want to come forward.”
Newton was also home to 19 kidnapping/abductions, according to police statistics, a figure which represents 46 per cent of Surrey’s total of 41. It was a 100-per-cent increase for Newton compared to 2012.
Whalley was just behind in kidnapping/abductions with 15 (up 15 per cent). There were four in Guildford and Fleetwood (down 20 per cent); three in Cloverdale and Port Kells (up 50 per cent); and one in South Surrey (no change).
Carr said police are aware of the increases, but note the greater public is not at risk if they stay away from the criminal lifestyle.
Typically, he said, kidnapping involves drug disputes.
“Someone owes someone a drug debt, and they go and snatch them and hold them until friends pay them,” Carr said.
Despite the more alarming offenses, the total number of violent crimes across Surrey was down.
Guildford and Fleetwood saw a 17-per-cent drop, with 1,160 offenses; Cloverdale and Port Kells had a 12-per-cent decrease with 527; and South Surrey was the most peaceful community, with 400 violent crimes (a drop of six per cent).
However, while those communities showed a drop in violent crime last year, Newton and Whalley were statistically unchanged.
The number of violent crimes in those neighbourhoods last year was nearly the same as 2012, with each community seeing more than 2,100 offenses.
Newton is the most populous of all the RCMP’s five districts, with 135,473 people living there in 2012, according to Surrey RCMP’s website.
There were some big drops in other crimes last year in Surrey as well, with attempted murder plummeting by 60 per cent, arson dropping by 38 per cent and theft over $5,000 sliding by 27 per cent.
While cocaine possession was up 11 per cent across the city, marijuana possession was up only five, and pot production was down 35 per cent.
Drug crimes totaled 446 city-wide, up by five per cent.
The total number of Criminal Code offenses last year in Surrey were 44,340 – an increase of just one per cent.
Carr said the Surrey RCMP is acutely aware of the challenges in Newton and has been responding to make the community safer.
“We’re absolutely aware of all these things,” Carr said. “We’ve got actions in place, we’ve created a number of teams, we’re bringing back a bike squad, we’re getting back the community of Newton and working together with the community and look forward to seeing the changes.”