Port Coquitlam’s top Mountie has some tough words for those stealing cars and breaking into homes and vehicles in the city.
"If you’re a prolific offender in these areas, we are watching you and, in these cases, we were watching, some people were subsequently arrested and they’re in jail right now," said RCMP Insp. Keith Bramhill,
Bramhill says a fluid group of criminals is responsible for the majority of property crimes that have caused a spike in some property crimes across Port Coquitlam.
However, Bramhill told city council on Tuesday (Nov. 9) a number of prolific offenders have been arrested and put in jail.
“Multiple arrests have been made regarding vandalism, thefts, drug possession and break and enters,” Bramhill said, promising more information once charges are laid.
A recent swatting incident that brought police to Riverside Secondary on Nov. 4 is also closer to being resolved, according to Bramhill.
Since the incident, which briefly shut the school, he said police have been searching for the person who called in the fake threat.
“We have some very good leads on a possible suspect and we’re following up on the necessary steps with that,” Bramhill told Mayor Brad West, and councillors who attended the meeting.
According to Bramhill, prolific offenders aren’t necessarily from Port Coquitlam, but operate in multiple jurisdictions and move from city to city looking for “opportunities.”
Over the summer, the city saw a big jump in break and enters and theft from vehicles.
From July to September, Coquitlam RCMP officers dealt with hundreds of calls as the number of reports of break and enters to homes jumped 23 per cent for a total of 25, compared to a three-year average, while thefts from vehicles climbed 18 per cent.
The three-year average for B & Es for the period is typically about 20 cases, making the past summer a bad one for this kind of crime.
Businesses were hit hard, too, over the summer, with 23 break-and-enters reported to police. However, that number is down from a three-year average of 30.
If Port Coquitlam residents saw a flurry of thefts from cars in their neighbourhood, it's likely that a prolific offender was at work.
There were 119 reports of thefts from vehicles — more than one a day — over the summer.
Assaults were also up dramatically over the summer, according to the police report, with 106 assaults. The three-year average for the period is 72 assaults.
In most cases individuals were known to each other, according to Bramhill, who said Port Coquitlam doesn’t typically experience random assaults, as is seen in Vancouver, where attacks are often related to mental health or substance abuse issues.
But he said COVID-19, which is keeping people closer to home, may be behind the 48 per cent increase in assaults compared to the three-year average.
To combat crime, Bramhill said police have ramped up their efforts to patrol streets, including on ATVs, and have been targeting specific areas.