Crime and safety numbers were back to typical levels to close 2020, according to the latest quarterly stats released by the Delta Police Department, but the pandemic had a noticeable impact on the year’s overall numbers.
Violent crime was down 18 per cent overall in 2020 compared to 2019, reversing a multi-year upswing in these type of offences. However, in the final quarter of 2020, there were nearly as many persons offences such as assaults, domestic assaults, robberies and arsons as there were over the same time period the year previous — 170 compared to 172 in 2019.
“Our officers were very busy in the second half of 2020, addressing a growing number of mental health related complaints, as well as dealing with troubled youths acting out in a variety of ways,” Deputy Chief Harj Sidhu, who heads up operations at the Delta Police Department, said in a press release. “I believe some of the proactive work done by our officers helped to keep overall violent crime or persons offences down.”
Commercial break-and-enters were up six per cent overall in 2020 — 135 offences versus 127 in 2019. The same upward trend was also noted in the final quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, residential break-and-enters trended in the opposite direction — down 21 per cent overall for the year, with 147 instances compared to 185 in 2019. Similarly, police noted just 34 residential break-and-enters in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to 45 during the same period in 2019.
“The decrease in this type of crime shows how much break-and-enters are a crime of opportunity,” Sidhu said. “With greater numbers of people staying at home, there were fewer opportunities for thieves who typically target properties whose residents are away, either for a few hours or days.”
Instances of theft-from-auto, however, were up 12 per cent from the year previous — 772 in 2020 compared to 689 in 2019. There was also a spike in the fourth quarter, with 185 offences noted compared to 137 during the same period in 2019.
Police say they are keeping a close eye on this category of offences, upping patrols and working with residents to encourage people not to leave anything of value in their vehicles, including spare change and sunglasses. Residents are also advised to lock their vehicles, as “smash-and-grabs” are not common within Delta — instead, thieves more commonly try door handles and rummage through unlocked vehicles.
Traffic collisions were down 18 per cent in 2020, with 943 incidents reported to police compared to 1,149 in 2019. This is due largely to significant drops in the second and third quarters of the year. By the last quarter however, the number of collisions had gone back up to 2019 levels — 315, mirroring the previous year exactly.
Violation tickets were also down significantly due to adjustments the DPD made when the pandemic struck the region. There were fewer drivers on the roads in the initial months, and police tried to be sensitive as people coped with changes wrought by COVID-19.
The overall number of tickets handed to drivers in 2020 was 8,504, versus 11,791 in 2019. However, like in many other categories, those numbers by Q4 were back on par with the same period the year previous — 2,734 tickets in 2020 compared to 2,708 in Q4 of 2019.