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Crime spiked 13.3% in the Tri-Cities last year, but the numbers mask long-term trends

The StatCan figures show a massive drop in Criminal Code violations in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody over the last 20 years
tri-cities crime coquitlam port coquitlam port moody criminal code
Total Criminal Code violations jumped 10.8% in Coquitlam and 21.2% in Port Coquitlam.

Crime jumped 13.3% in the Tri-Cities last year following record lows in 2018, according to newly released Statistics Canada data. 

Port Coquitlam saw the biggest uptick, with Criminal Code violations excluding traffic offences per 100,000 residents rising 21.2% while Coquitlam increased 10.8%. In Port Moody, which has its own municipal police force, crime rose 3.1% in 2019. 

But a one-year snapshot does not tell the whole story, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said.

He notes that 2018 was an exceptionally low year for crime “so most comparisons will show an increase in 2019 even though it still demonstrates a downward trend.”

Stewart said that crime has fallen so precipitously over the last two decades that it does not take much to cause a small spike in the numbers — particularly when it comes to property crime.

“A single prolific offender can dramatically increase the stats during a spree followed by a decrease once they are apprehended,” he said. “We’ve seen it repeatedly, where crime stats suddenly rise when one of these prolific offenders is released.”

According to the Statistics Canada numbers, property crime violations are up 10.5% in Coquitlam and 31% in Port Coquitlam year over year while they have declined 3.7% in Port Moody.

One area where Stewart is happy to see an increase is traffic violations. 

Unlike property crime or violent crime, a rise in driving infractions tend to be based on stepped up enforcement, which he said residents have been calling for. 

As a result, the number of traffic violations jumped 51.9% in Coquitlam and 92.7% in Port Coquitlam while impaired driving went up 66.4% in Coquitlam and 125% in Port Coquitlam.

Coquitlam RCMP Const. Deanna Law said the detachment has increased the number of officers in its traffic unit and given them “additional tools to focus on reducing speeding,” she said. “This has resulted in an increase in enforcement, specifically speeding tickets and impaired driving charges.”

The Tri-City crime data mirrors similar trends seen across the province and the country.

According to Statistics Canada, crime is up 6.5% across Canada and 17.3% in British Columbia in 2019 compared to the year before. 

In B.C., youth crime rates rose 8.5% while the crime severity increase increased 21.5%. 

Metro Vancouver Map — Total Criminal Code violations per 100k population by city