Robberies and shoplifting in the Cowichan Valley are way up compared to this time last year, according to the local police.
In his quarterly report for April to June, 2022, Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, told Duncan city council at its meeting on Aug. 15 that robberies increased 140 per cent, from five instances to 12, from the same quarter last year.
He also said shoplifting is up 135 per cent, from 57 instances to 134, from last year.
Overall, the local RCMP received 5,080 calls for service in the second quarter of 2022, down from the 5,353 calls for service that were received last year, or a 5.1 per cent decrease.
“For the quarter, while most types of occurrences dropped in the City of Duncan, Indigenous lands and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, there was a significant increase for many occurrences in the Municipality of North Cowichan, with many of them involving property crimes, specifically shoplifting,” Bear said.
“There was an increase in robberies in all jurisdictions, however late in the quarter they immediately stopped occurring.”
Bear told council that the rash of robberies was largely due to a woman who help up numerous gas stations and other businesses with a knife in early June.
He said the robberies stopped and that, to date, no one has been arrested for them.
In a separate report dealing strictly with the downtown Duncan corridor and area in the same time period compared to last year, Bear said the number of criminal incidents were higher in the northern sections of the corridor than in the south in the second quarter.
Bear said that, compared to the April-June quarter of 2021, the Lewis Street and York Street area, where the Overdose Prevention Site and the Warmland shelter are located, saw a 58 per cent increase in criminal incidents in the same period this year.
“The new OPS site moved to this area in November, 2021,” he said.
“This area makes up 19 per cent of all the general occurrences in the downtown area and makes up the largest hot spot of activity in the corridor area. This area has overtaken the TCH corridor which is the usual No. 1 hot spot of activity.”
He said the Cowichan Commons area saw an 85 per cent increase in criminal incidents, making it a new centre of interest for the RCMP in the second quarter.
“The new modular housing complex on Paddle Road [BC Housing’s new supportive housing development] opened in this area and occupancy began in April, 2022, and we’re seeing an increase in property crimes there,” Bear said.
“This area made up 11 per cent of the entire volume of files for the downtown area [in the second quarter].”
Bear said the Duncan Mall/Village Green Mall and area was the only area in the downtown core to have a decrease in criminal incidents.
He said incidents dropped in that area from for 357 last year to 329 this quarter, which is an eight per cent decrease.
“Despite the overall decrease, shoplifting under $5,000, false alarms and public intoxication remains an issue for this area,” Bear said.
“It is noteworthy that the former OPS site [on Trunk Road] would have fallen in this area in the second quarter of 2021, but not the second quarter of 2022. As well, the homeless temporary cabin site on St. Julien Street and the Mound both bordered this area and closed down in March, 2022.”