July 21st, 2024

Property crime increases are due to drugs, police say

By Peggy Revell on July 29, 2017.


prevell@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNprevell

Property crimes of all sorts have increased in 2016, according to statistics included within the Medicine Hat Police’s 2016 annual report published last week — numbers police say are linked together with the increased amount of meth and opiates being seen in the city.

“The biggest thing is thefts of convenience,” said Insp. Brent Secondiak of the MHPS. “They will take stuff to make money that’s convenient for them … they won’t do a lot of work for it.”

“They will steal stuff from vehicles that are left open, they’ll steal stuff from bicycles left in the yard.”

According to the report, break and enters of businesses have risen from 31 cases in 2014, to 55 in 2015, and 83 in 2016. Break and entries to residences have risen from 131 cases in 2014 to 159 in 2015, to 220 in 2016. Theft over $5,000 has increased from 20 cases in 2014 to 29 in 2015, and 45 in 2016. Theft under $5,000 has risen from 647 cases in 2014 to 717 in 2015, and 915 in 2016.

The increase in property crimes is directly related to drugs, said Secondiak — as the city has experienced an “unprecedented” increase in seizures of both methamphetamine and heroin.

“(Meth is) a very expensive drug and they’ll do almost anything to find the money to get it,” said Secondiak. Many of those being charged with property crimes are commonly known to police as being involved with the drug subculture.

“Typically they’re taking whatever it is and they’re either trading it for drugs to the trafficker,” he said. Or the items are sold using online classified sites like Kijiji, or Facebook groups where Hatters come together to sell their second-hand items. Stolen items like drivers’ licences can be used for fraud.

“We actually don’t see as much from the pawnshops anymore; historically that was the big one,” said Secondiak, saying these stores have stepped up their game in this respect.

Most of the theft-over-$5,000 cases are that of stolen vehicles, explained Secondiak.

“We do recover most of our vehicles that are stolen,” he said. “They’re used to commit other crimes, sell drugs, commit break and enters and then the vehicles are ditched — and that happens frequently.”

It’s why people shouldn’t leave their vehicles unlocked, running, or with keys inside or easily found, said Secondiak, and why people need to remove valuables from their vehicles, keep doors locked and close their yard gates.

“It’s really theft of opportunity, so the public can do a lot to help us with that,” he said.

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