Lock it or lose it: Lumsden RCMP see increase in property crime reports in 2016

From theft to mischief, Mounties saw a rise in property crime calls in the town of Lumsden last year.

According to statistics from the Lumsden RCMP, the detachment received a total of 110 property crime reports in the 2016 year, the number up from 65 reports in 2015. Fourteen of the calls in 2016 and 12 in 2015 proved to be unfounded.

The majority of reports related to property theft and mischief.

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, Lumsden RCMP received 36 reports of theft under $5,000, and 45 mischief calls. During the same reporting period the previous year, the detachment received 21 reports of theft under $5,000 and 26 mischief calls. Of the 36 theft reports and 45 mischief calls in 2016, 11 were unfounded. Seven mischief reports and one theft were unfounded in the previous year.

“Last summer we had rashes of thefts in Lumsden. A lot of vehicle thefts, sheds” said Jeff More, community constable with the Lumsden RCMP.

He said summer was busy with people coming through and checking cars, sheds and porches, looking for anything valuable and easy to take. The community constable explained a group of people will come in to town and do “car checks,” going through four or five unlocked vehicles a night. If the group is relatively successful, they return.

The RCMP recommend keeping vehicles and homes locked, and valuables out of sight.

“It’s a lot of crime of opportunity,” More explained, noting he does not recall going to a single report involving a broken window last summer.

The community constable said a majority of auto thefts are also crimes of opportunity; keys left in the vehicle or the vehicle left running.

“It’s actually pretty rare, unless its an older model vehicle, that they’ll actually hot wire it,” he said.

More recognized property crime is frustrating for officers, as it is a preventable crime.

In addition to an increase in reports of theft under $5,000 and mischief, RCMP saw a slight rise in the number fraud calls, the number rising from two reports in 2015 to eight in 2016. No charges were laid. The number of reports of break and enters increased by six calls, changing from six in 2015 to 12 in 2016. Four of the six calls were unfounded in 2015, and two were unfounded in 2016.

The number of reports for thefts over $5,000, possession of stolen goods and arson remained similar to the previous year.

Impaired driving numbers in the town also remained similar in the 2016 year. In Lumsden in 2015, Mounties received 11 impaired driving reports, one being unfounded, and seven charges were laid. Last year, RCMP received nine reports, with one unfounded, and eight charges were laid.

“It’s pretty much status quo,” said More. “Drinking and driving hasn’t changed. We still have a ton of drinking and driving on the highways, in the towns, leaving and coming into Lumsden.”

The community constable said he knows the impaired driving numbers for the Lumsden detachment are high compared to other areas. The Lumsden RCMP cover an area stretching from the Regina weigh scale outwards to Chamberlain. Officers respond to calls in communities including Findlater, Disley, Bethune, Regina Beach, Craven, Silton and Lumsden. Members also respond to calls outside the area to assist.

According to a Statistics Canada study, in 2015 Saskatchewan held the highest impaired driving rate among the provinces, Saskatchewan having 575 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 people as reported by police.

Similar to impaired driving in Lumsden, reports and charges in relation to drug possession remained stable between the 2015 and 2016 year. In 2016, the Lumsden RCMP received six reports of drug possession, three reports for 30 grams or less of marijuana and three reports for possession of cocaine. Four charges were laid. In the previous year in Lumsden, RCMP dealt with two reports of possession, with two charges laid.

“In the town of Lumsden itself, I have to say, drugs aren’t a consistent issue,” said More. “We see drugs more on the highway and coming through Lumsden. But as a community, I can’t say we have any major concerns with drug problems.”

According to the statistics, within the town the Lumsden RCMP saw a decline in provincial traffic offences, the number of charges declining to 44 in 2016 from 131 in 2015. More estimated the change could be contributed to assistance from the combined traffic services unit during the Craven Country Jamboree.

Reports of municipal bylaw infractions to the Lumsden RCMP increased by seven in the 2016 year, up from one the previous year. More explained some bylaws are by summons, so RCMP are required to write the ticket. He noted officers will attend other municipal bylaw matters depending on the call itself. He gave an example of a dog bite that the local RCMP may want to further investigate.

With the increases in property crime and decrease in traffic reports, the local detachment saw a similar number of calls compared to the previous year. In 2015, the detachment received 411 reports within Lumsden, 18 of the reports unfounded. Last year, the Lumsden RCMP received 407 reports. With 28 unfounded, the detachment’s actual number for the year was 379.

With relatively stable numbers and a low occurrence of major crimes in the community, More summarized Lumsden is a safe community.

“We don’t really have major concerns other than the property thefts that were going on last summer, (and) vehicle thefts,” he said.

To reduce the amount of property crime, More reminds residents to “lock it or lose it,” keeping valuables out of sight.

“We don’t want to be an easy target for people to keep coming back,” he said.

For the 2016 year, More recognized the detachment’s commitment to being present at the schools and in the school zones, interacting with youth.

“Kids are waving to us now,” he said.

In October officers also handed out red flashing lights to youth on Halloween, the lights helping to ensure trick-or-treaters were visible at night.

WPR

Note: This story has been edited from its original version to reflect Jeff More is a community constable with the Lumsden RCMP.