Property crime in Lake Country was up a whopping 74 per cent in the three month period between April and June of this year.
In a report to Lake Country council for that three month period, RCMP sergeant Jayson Lucash said the spike in property crime is due to a rash of break-ins of homes under construction, thefts from Canada Post mail boxes as well as from unlocked vehicles.
“The entire Central Okanagan has experienced a huge spike in theft from vehicles,” said Lucash. “People are simply not locking their cars. They are leaving valuable items, whether it be sports equipment, wallets or cash. Those items and being taken and with the chip (bank) cards, thieves can just tap and go. It’s a field day.”
Speaking to members of Lake Country council on Tuesday, Lucash said theft from homes under construction prompted the RCMP to meet with the area home builders association, asking its members to make sure to lock up tools and other valuables from homes that are being built and are easily targeted by thieves.
Still, he wasn’t sure the message was getting through.
“We started going into homes under construction, physically getting out and walking around them,” he said. “I understand that depending on the level they have got to on the building that sometimes you can’t lock things up. I walked right into a new home, easily a million dollar home, and everything was there, just sitting there waiting to be installed. Someone could back up with a truck and away they go.”
Thefts from community mail boxes appeared to be an organized group that was targeting the old Canada Post community mail boxes, said Lucash.
“You could see the pattern: Lake Country would get hit one night, then the next night it was West Kelowna and the next night Peachland,” he said. “It’s someone looking for parcels or for personal material that they can use for fraudulent activity.”
Lucash was asked if there was an organized component to the thefts, but he called it very low level and crimes of opportunity.
“In one case we had youth just going up and down streets trying every door handle,” he said. “These are low level types of crimes, crimes of opportunity.”
He did say police identified a couple of persons of interest involved in the property crime and said he believes that has had a positive effect on keeping crime down.
“I think we’ve turned a corner on that, not just in our area but right through the entire Okanagan,” he said.