Chatham-Kent citizens live in municipality that is pretty safe when it comes to violent crimes, but there is lots of room for improvement when comparing statistics on non-violent crimes.
The Chatham-Kent Police Service released its 2016 Crime Severity Index (CSI) Report at the Sept. 15 Police Services Board meeting and Chief Gary Conn said when dealing with non-violent crimes like break and enters, the public’s help is needed. Nationally, CK ranked 20th of 50 police services (with 50 being best ranking) in non-violent crimes and 44th for violent crimes.
There was an overall increase in the index of 6.2 per cent, but Conn said local statistics showed that most offences were down and the municipality was still 4.56 per cent below the national average.
According to the report, there was one murder and one attempted murder in 2016, however the Violent Crime Severity Index went up only two per cent to 36.8 per cent. It was low compared to the national average of 75.25 per cent.
The Non-Violent Crime Severity Index is where Conn said work needs to be done to combat the increase in break and enters, fraud and theft. Locally, the rate went up 7.7 per cent to 77.30 per cent, above the national and provincial average of 67.83 and 48.60 per cent respectively.
“The number of break and enters has always been our Achilles heel,” Conn said to the board. “Our local break-ins are committed by chronic offenders groups and individuals who are committed to a life of crime which I like to refer to as ‘career criminals’.”
When looking at the types of break and enters, Conn pointed out that in one month, 57 break and enters were reported and of those, 23 were into detached garages and sheds. The disturbing part, Conn said, is that 90 per cent of those garages and sheds were unlocked.
“People are leaving their property unlocked. We need the community’s assistance. Locks may not be an absolute deterrent, but we find a lot of these criminals look for a crime of opportunity and if the door is locked, they go on to the next,” Conn said. “Make sure belongings are locked securely or are out of sight.”
Part of the problem, Conn noted with the ‘career criminals’ is that they will be arrested and will then be released to return to their old habits.
“This provides further challenges in regards to intelligence and apprehension. It is my hope that by informing the community of this issue, and engaging our citizens in reporting suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods, this will help us catch these criminals.”
Conn said this issue will remain a top priority and he is looking new conditions and increased compliance checks on career criminals.