A couple of unnerving crime trends are popping up in the Queen City.
Year-end statistics from 2015 show there were a total of 18,332 police-reported crimes in Regina, which is an increase of 4.6 per cent from 2014. Within that jump, a number of specific areas are catching the attention of city police.
None is more evident than vehicle theft which saw numbers soar over the last year.
“It is disconcerting to see a 20 per cent increase last year,” said Chief Troy Hagen.
The number of incidents jumped from 827 in 2014 to 1,004 in 2015.
Theft of items that are left within vehicles also seems to be a problem police are left to investigate. Hagen said besides leaving things in plain view, too many drivers are leaving their keys in their vehicles. The chief said this type of crime could be cut drastically if people took their keys with them.
Break-ins are another area Hagen and his officers have identified as problematic, especially to detached buildings like garages and sheds. There were 106 incidents of arson in 2015, the highest since 2006 when 145 incidents occurred. Police also admit there’s a noticeable jump in certain types of drugs that are found.
“There’s more meth in the city. I think we can say that with total certainty. Meth is certainly much more prevalent today than it certainly was even a year ago,” revealed Hagen.
The quantity of meth seized from 2014 to 2015 shot up 130 per cent while the number of seizures also increased by 64 per cent.
The figures were presented at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting Wednesday morning, where a comparative look at crime stats over the last 10 years was also discussed. While crime is up in the short-term, over the last decade it’s been reduced by 23 per cent. Many other areas — including vehicle theft — have also seen significant reductions.
But given that, the chief explains many of these trends are spilling into 2016 and still finds concern with the kinds of illegal activity surfacing.
“It’s obviously not a place I think any of us want to be in terms of an increase in crime. However, it is what it is. We need to obviously focus on two or three areas.”
He guessed a number of factors could be contributors in the surge of criminal activity: environmental conditions such as the mild winter weather, the economic slowdown, more drugs and a growing population.
Mayor Michael Fougere says those aren’t excuses. He also hopes these trends are simply anomalies for this year and only this year.
“This is what’s important, that the public knows that when we see a trend happening the police service is onto it quickly.”