VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — New data from Vancouver Police show there’s been a jump in serious crimes across the city during the pandemic.
According to the report, violent crime increased by 5.2 per cent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Most of that jump was driven by a 21.7 per cent growth in serious assaults.
“The increase in serious assaults was observed city-wide, however specific neighbourhoods stood out and recorded high numbers, like Yaletown, the West End, Strathcona and Chinatown,” VPD Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow says.
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) September 17, 2020
Residents like Katie Lewis, who’s lived in Strathcona for five years and is the vice president of the Strathcona Residents Association, tells CityNews they want safety but also want action.
“We’ve heard the incidents of violent crime going up. I hear from people on a day-to-day basis about this,” she says.
Lewis says she has two kids who play in the park in front of her house and she says she’s angry about the Vancouver Mayor’s lack of response — especially since a new tent city was set up in Strathcona Park in June.
“I invite [Vancouver Mayor] Kennedy Stewart to come down here and spend a week in that camp. How dare he. Because I have been screaming at him for months and all he does is ignore me,” she says.
Vancouver Police add they are paying special attention to Strathcona.
“In the neighbourhood of Strathcona, weapons calls are up 50 per cent, break-ins increased by 68 per cent, and calls to police about threatening behaviour has gone up 14 per cent,” Chow says.
Meanwhile, Chow also tweeted a photo of a loaded firearm that Vancouver police recently found in Strathcona left unattended near some houses.
“The automatic weapon that we talked about on social media, it was found about a half-block from Strathcona, in a laneway in a bag, it was loaded, the safety wasn’t engaged on it – it was ready to go.”
— Howard Chow (@DeputyChow) September 16, 2020
“I have five-year-old twins … But when we’re dealing with people with loaded guns? I don’t know how to talk to my kids about that anymore,” Lewis says.
Car break-ins have decreased partly because there have been fewer vehicles on the road but commercial and business properties have also seen a near 50 per cent increase in break-and-enters.
“Our resources are moving where we can to try to deal with some of these increases,” Chow says.
Meanwhile, in Strathcona, Lewis says her neighbours continue to feel ignored.
“I would love for all of our political leaders to do their jobs because that’s what we elected them to do, and them ignoring us is not helping.”