During the Jan. 11 Sunshine Coast Policing Committee meeting, Sunshine Coast RCMP Staff Sgt. Vishal Mathura reported the following to the committee:
Crime rate: The crime rate on the Sunshine Coast has dropped along with the temperature – and Mathura speculated the two are related.
“My theory is this: our crime rate has a direct correlation to the weather and temperature. In the summertime it was really hot, hotter than usual, and our crime rate spiked – it went way up,” Mathura said.
“In November and December, it’s been cold, so if you take a look at our calls for service in November, in comparison to two years ago, we are down over 100 calls in one month. That’s very significant.”
Mathura also noted the cold weather has resulted in a specific decrease in property crimes on the Coast.
“Criminals don’t like being out in the cold vandalizing things,” he said.
“Overall I’m actually pleased with the decrease. I’d like to take credit, but I don’t think it’s the police. I think it’s Mother Nature actually doing the work for us.”
DNA testing: Mathura said the RCMP detachment is still pursuing DNA testing to catch the culprit who broke into the Roberts Creek Legion shortly after Remembrance Day last year, but he cautioned committee members that the tests won’t help catch the criminal if the person isn’t already in the DNA database.
“If it’s, let’s say, a young person, the chances of them being in that databank are very low, very remote, because you actually have to do a very egregious crime to get added to that databank,” Mathura said.
He noted that while the province will foot the bill for DNA testing in the Roberts Creek case, the District of Sechelt would have to pay for the service within the District if needed in the future, due to a recent change in the way costs are recovered.
Because Sechelt pays its own policing costs, the cost of DNA analysis also falls to the municipality under the new rules. Mathura estimated the cost would be around $500 per test.
Surveillance cameras: Mathura encouraged the use of surveillance cameras as a major deterrent to property crime and a way to catch criminals if they decide to push past the recording device.
“For us, for our crimefighting efforts, if businesses and community places have surveillance cameras, it helps us a lot because you have a permanent witness located there 100 per cent of the time,” Mathura said. “For the majority of our break and enters there is no surveillance equipment.”
He stressed that installing cameras at most businesses isn’t very costly (under $500) and that “it does work as a deterrent.”
S&M Sweet Shoppe: Sunshine Coast RCMP are still going through evidence seized in the raid on S&M Sweet Shoppe last November and charges have yet to be laid in the case.
“We have a lot of exhibits to go through – a lot. Because each candy, you see, has to be accounted for,” Mathura said.
“This investigation is ongoing. Charges against the owners may be recommended at a later date.”
Frauds: Mathura reminded the public to be wary of phone calls asking for personal information as telephone frauds are becoming quite common on the Coast.
He said the RCMP are available to give fraud lectures to seniors’ groups in particular as seniors are often targeted by fraudsters.
He explained the best solution is educating the public, since catching people involved in telephone scams is nearly impossible.
“The problem when investigating frauds is a lot of them are overseas and we deal with cross-jurisdictional boundaries, especially when you’re talking about wire frauds or Visa frauds,” Mathura said.
“They shuffle the money around, which is very easy to do – you can do it all on your computer nowadays and every layer that they add increases difficulty for the police.”
New scanner: Sunshine Coast RCMP tried out a new licence plate scanner recently that can tell police within three seconds of scanning the plate of a vehicle driving by if the driver is prohibited or the vehicle is uninsured or unregistered.
In a week and a half with the device, RCMP scanned a total of 8,444 licence plates and laid nine charges against drivers who were either wanted on warrants, prohibited from driving or driving unregistered, uninsured vehicles.
Mathura was impressed with the scanner, which was on loan from RCMP E Division.
“Instead of going out trying to actively hunt for offences, you can sit there and let the technology do the work for you,” Mathura said.
He plans to use the scanner again in the future when it’s not on loan to other detachments.