Calls for service were up, robberies and break and enters were on the rise, and drug issues remained a priority in the fourth quarter of 2018 according to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP’s quarterly report.
Prepared and delivered to both North Cowichan and Duncan councils by Insp. Chris Bear, officer in charge of the detachment, the report did note, however, that “overall, most types of offences have decreased compared to other quarters.”
Bear explained that “robberies are defined in the Criminal Code as theft with violence,” and while in people’s heads that looks like a masked culprit brandishing a gun telling the bank teller to hand over the money, “this is rarely the case.”
“The majority we see is stealing with a threat, for example, taking a bike and threatening to punch them,” Bear explained. “We have seen a case or two that were serious threats with a firearm, however it is rare here in the Cowichan Valley.”
All told, there were nine reports of robbery between October through December with four involving theft of personal items and assaults on individuals while five were on businesses.
“Three allegedly involved firearms/replica firearms however victims initially thought the culprit was joking and did not give anything,” Bear wrote in the report.
In one instance a man and woman allegedly shoplifted from Canadian Tire and when confronted by security, the duo “proceeded to assault and bear spray them.” Bystanders helped detain the couple until police arrived and the matter is now working its way through the court system.
In another case security officers confronted two suspected shoplifters at Superstore and were met by the male and female suspects brandishing a knife and threatening to use it. That case is also before the courts.
The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have also prioritized the substance abuse issue plaguing the Duncan region “given its severity to affect all types of criminal activity,” Bear wrote.
Hot spot patrols are up, there’s been an increase in drug projects and drug search warrants and other initiatives are being undertaken to ensure the problems are being addressed.
“The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment continues to work closely with Island Health and the Community Action Team regarding the community’s social and economic issues,” Bear wrote. “The RCMP urge the community to report Criminal Activity and never to assume that others have reported it.”
Bear outlined five “significant” drug files in the report: three related to trafficking fentanyl/cocaine, one dial-a-dope investigation and one arrest of a “top priority offender” on a curfew breach.
Overall, Bear reports it is still the minority of the population committing the majority of the crime.
So then, is Duncan safe?
“The answer is that of an opinion based on an individual’s feelings and experiences,” Bear explained. “If you ask me as a local resident and as a parent of young children, if Duncan is safe? Absolutely.”
But what about all the needles?
“Yes there are needles still being needlessly discarded and the community is working to eradicate this,” he said. “Please keep in mind that there is broken glass/nails out there which can be equally dangerous as discarded needles.”
And the homeless population?
“Not all homeless persons have addictions,” he said. “Not all homeless persons are criminals.”