OLDS —Property crimes in Olds and area rose 36 per cent and of those crimes, theft of motor vehicles shot up by 89 per cent, according to fourth quarter and year-end statistics reported by Olds RCMP commanding officer Staff Sgt. Jim MacDonald.
MacDonald released those stats during an Olds council policies and priorities meeting Feb. 3.
He also reported that break-ins rose by 13 per cent and theft under $5,000 rose by 20 per cent.
On the other hand, crimes against persons fell by four per cent and other criminal code offences fell by 17 per cent.
“There was, overall in the town of Olds, a 16 per cent increase in crime over 2018,” MacDonald said. “Most of that was largely due to our property crime.”
MacDonald said the crime rate in the rural part of the detachment, although lower than in the town, also rose.
He said crimes against people increased by 15 per cent but property crimes only rose by eight per cent.
Rural break-ins did not increase at all between 2018 and 2019, remaining at 67.
Rural auto thefts rose by 41 per cent, but that’s well below the 89 per cent hike in Olds.
Thefts under $5,000 outside of the town actually fell by three per cent.
In 2017 there were 144 reported thefts in the rural area, 107 in 2018 and 104 last year.
Possession of stolen property cases rose from 18 in 2018 to 38 last year, up 111 per cent.
MacDonald said that’s one stat he likes to see rising.
“That means that somebody has been caught in possession of stolen property and there was most likely a charge laid,” he said.
He added that Olds RCMP had some success last year catching people in stolen vehicles who were in possession of other stolen property as well.
Drug possession stats fell from 11 in 2018 to two in 2019, down 82 per cent.
And drug trafficking stats dropped from four in 2018 to one in 2019, a 75 per cent reduction.
MacDonald said that’s basically a result of cannabis becoming legalized.
“We’re not getting the reports of ‘my neighbour next door has marijuana plants in his house’ anymore because the neighbour next door now is allowed to have some of those marijuana plants in his house,” MacDonald said.
He said also as a result of that change in the law if police arrest someone for one crime and then find they’re carrying marijuana, they’re not likely to face a charge for that.
However, he said, that doesn’t mean police aren’t charging suspects found to be carrying hard drugs.
The number of suspicious people reported fell from 135 in 2018 to 131 in 2019.
That’s another number that MacDonald would like to see rise in the coming years “because, particularly through the fall and winter, a lot of those suspicious persons calls have led to us actually making an arrest.”