Criminal offences in Lake Country increased in almost every statistical category from 2017 to 2018, according to the 2018 annual report.
In total, there were 617 offences in 2018; 89 more than 2017, yet 48 less than in 2016.
RCMP suspect the increase can be partially attributed to repeat offenders who finished their sentence in 2018 and rejoined the community, according to Lake Country detachment commander Sgt. Cameron Holloway. “It’s cyclical.”
Some of the most notable increases were a 260 per cent increase in business break and enters; a 267 per cent increase in theft of motor vehicle incidents—of which was the highest in the past three years; and a 119 per cent increase in property offences.
The only category in which offences did not increase was under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
Sgt. Holloway said not only is it the recurrence of Lake Country offenders, but incidents conducted by criminal offenders from neighbouring towns that come to Lake Country.
“They are coming from Kelowna, Vernon, Salmon Arm and committing offences here,” he said, but could not provide accompanying statistics and reports.
Sgt. Holloway said Lake Country police have been working in co-ordination with adjacent RCMP detachments in order to reprimand criminals more efficiently and rectify the growth in crime.
Nonetheless, the Sergeant states Lake Country is a relatively safe municipality compared to others throughout the Okanagan and residents should not be worried.
“There’s a perception that crime is rampant. It really isn’t,” he said.
In 2017 (most recent data), the City of Kelowna had 12,521 offences committed with a population of 129,500 people.
Comparably, if Lake Country had a similar population in 2018, that would equate to approximately 5,696 or less than half of offences occurred in Kelowna.
Right now there are approximately 14,000 residents in Lake Country; a number that has been growing. Due to the rising population, the RCMP have put provisions in place to make sure Lake Country stays a relatively safe community.
In early June 2019, the District of Lake Country council passed a motion that a request be sent into the Solicitor General and minister of public safety in B.C. and the Solicitor General of Canada to hire five additional RCMP officers.
Although Sgt. Holloway said hiring more officers will change the way Lake Country is policed and “give [police] the ability to better operate in the community,” it will be at least 18 months to two years before the new recruits join the detachment.