INNISFAIL – Crimes against people in Innisfail dramatically increased in 2020 over the previous year but property crimes tumbled.
And the year-to-year statistics on property crimes in the rural areas within the Innisfail RCMP jurisdiction also showed a significant drop.
Innisfail RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Matechuk said from 2019 to 2020 there was a 40 per cent increase in crimes against people, and that includes assaults, kidnapping, extortion, criminal harassment and uttering threats.
With reported assaults, Matechuk said the detachment received 56 complaints in 2019 compared to 107 in 2020.
“We are seeing people physically stressed, the same thing we are seeing in every other industry. Every area in persons crimes has seen an increase,” said Matechuk, noting there was an 18 per cent increase in uttering threats and 13 per cent hike in criminal harassment cases in 2020 when compared to figures for 2019.
He noted, however, that robberies went down, with seven reported in 2019 but only two reported in 2020.
However, there was much better news when it came to proper crimes.
The Innisfail commanding officer said overall property crimes were down 19 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. He broke down the statistics to report the detachment had 720 property crime complaints in 2019, compared to 580 in 2020.
“That is a substantial decrease,” he said, adding there was a 50 per cent decrease in stolen vehicles in 2020, compared to 2019 statistics. He said the detachment received 96 complaints of stolen vehicles in 2019, compared to 48 in 2020.
For several years prior to 2020 the Innisfail detachment, along with other neighbouring police jurisdictions, were seeing an escalating number of property crimes in rural areas.
However, he said 2020 statistics for the Innisfail RCMP’s rural area showed a 17 per cent decrease in property crime and a nine per cent drop in persons crimes when compared to 2019. He noted the latest statistics showed 996 property crime complaints four years, and then dropping to 611.
“We are showing the lowest amount in the last four to five years,” he said. “It is trending downwards, yes. You credit that a lot to the rural crime watch and the efforts everybody is doing in reporting crime and assisting the police.
“Overall, we are seeing decreases in rural crime,” he added, noting with persons crimes, the RCMP is seeing a 20 per cent decrease in the past five years. “For the past three years we have decreased every year.”
He also said with so many more people staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be another reason for the lower property crime statistics.
“It does help. We do see a lot more people at home, especially in the rural areas where it really helps because they are really isolated and the (police) response is slower,” he said. “That can be credited, I am sure.”