Key crime and traffic indicators fell in all areas of the city in the first three months of 2020 compared to the same time last year, according to stats released this week by the Delta Police Department.
Although the drop in stats was most notable in March, some crime types experienced low numbers in other months as well. For example, the number of persons offences — crimes such as assault, sexual assault, arson and robbery — which had been climbing since 2018, dropped 14 per cent overall in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2019. The numbers were low in both January and March, with February being the peak month.
Commercial break-and-enters decreased significantly, with 29 incidents reported to police — down 33 per cent compared to the first three months of 2019. Police say that trend seemed to be continuing in April.
Residential break-and-enters, meanwhile, were down 17 per cent in the first quarter, with just 45 reported to police, and the numbers dipped even lower in April. Year-to-date, these offence types are down approximately 25 per cent compared to last year.
“Most break-and-enters occur when homes are empty,” Inspector Ciaran Feenan, head of the DPD’s patrol section, said in a press release. “With everyone sheltering in place, the opportunity to commit these type of offences has gone down.”
However, Feenan said, residents ought to ensure garages and sheds are kept secure to reduce crimes of opportunity.
Thefts from auto were also down slightly in the first quarter. Despite a spike in reports in January that inflated the quarterly numbers some, the department saw a two per cent decrease compared to the same time last year, with 200 thefts from auto reported to police in the first three months of this year.
Fewer cars on the road, particularly in March, meant Delta police handed out 14 per cent fewer traffic violation tickets than they did in the first quarter of 2019. That number was even lower in April, as DPD officers adjusted to challenges posed by COVID-19 and shifted their approach to enforcement, as well as other officer practices.
Fortunately, fewer cars on the road also meant fewer collisions, with 240 accidents reported to police — down 22 per cent. That trend also continued through April, which had just 41 collisions — the fewest of any recent month.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, the DPD fully implemented its pandemic plan and shifted its deployment model, both to respond to new challenges and to ensure enough officers would remain healthy and fit for duty to respond to any emerging situations.
“Throughout March and April our approach has been to ensure high police visibility, as we know this serves both as a deterrent and also provides a sense of safety to the public,” Feenan said.
In late March, the DPD started to analyze how COVID-19 is impacting service delivery in terms of calls for service. The majority of calls to date so far involve social distancing complaints, followed by well-being checks due to coronavirus-related isolation and concerns about youths in parks.
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