By Trevor Busch
Taber saw an overall uptick of 11 per cent in reports and incidents of crime in 2017 according to the police service’s annual crime analysis report.
Prepared by Sr. Cst. Mathieu Champagne and Arlene Wong, the 2017 Crime Analysis Report was reviewed by the Taber Municipal Police Commission at their regular meeting in May.
In 2017, Taber saw 13 incidences of sexual assault, 71 common assaults, nine assaults with a weapon or causing bodily harm, five aggravated assaults, and seven assaults on police. In addition to this, there were also four allegations of kidnapping, hostage or abduction. This accounts for an overall 11 per cent decrease in the crime rate involving offences against persons.
“We pride ourselves on having a low violent crime rate, and as a result, citizens of this community feel safe walking the streets at night — they’ve told us in our surveys that they feel safe walking the streets, being out at night — there’s less than a 1.3 per cent chance of being a victim of a violent offence in this community,” said Taber Police Service Chief Graham Abela. “So that’s something that the town of Taber should be proud of.”
Assaults on police, however, saw an increase for the third consecutive year, rising from five in 2016 to seven in 2017, which translates into a 40 per cent increase.
“This is the highest number of reported assaults on police since the inception of the collection of these statistics,” reads a statement in the report.
In 2016, the Taber Police Service saw its highest level of reports of sexual offences at 19, but in 2017 that number has dropped to 13, representing a 32 per cent decrease.
“Of the 13 reports, seven resulted in formal charges being laid, three were determined to be unfounded, two resulted in the TPS acting in an assisting capacity to other investigating policing agencies, and one report remains under investigation,” states the report.
A review of sexual offences conducted by the TPS would also reveal that 11 of the 13 reports in 2017 involved victims under the age of 18.
For property offences, the year saw 49 incidences of break and enter, 23 thefts of motor vehicles, eight thefts over $5,000, and 222 thefts under $5,000. There were also 33 allegations of possession of stolen property and 49 frauds recorded. This accounts for an overall 20 per cent increase in the crime rate involving property offences, on the heels of a 27 per cent increase in 2016.
Of the 49 reported break and enters, 13 were to businesses, 31 to residences, three occurred to other structures such as unattached garages, construction sites, or sheds, and the last two reports were persons being unlawfully in a dwelling house. Of the 17 confirmed vehicle thefts, 76 per cent involved thefts where the keys were left in the vehicle prior to the theft occurring, while in cases of reported thefts from motor vehicles, 75 per cent involved items being stolen from the interior of unattended or unlocked vehicles.
“These statistics confirm that removing keys from vehicles and ensuring that doors are locked when vehicles are left unattended would likely decrease the number of reportable thefts in these categories,” the report stated.
Last year would also see a total of 129 incidents involving property damage, 123 allegations of disturbing the peace, 10 cases of criminal harassment, 69 issues involving uttering threats, 138 cases with regard to a breach of probation or bail violation, and 48 incidences of impaired driving.
On the drug enforcement front, officers dealt with one case of cocaine possession and three incidents of cocaine trafficking, and one methamphetamine possession case.
“We did see a dramatic decrease in the number of incidents in this crime category,” said Abela. “There were 75 reports in 2016, the previous year we had 25 reports. However, we have seen an increase in the possession of methamphetamine.”
There were no charges laid for production of marijuana or possession over 30 grams, but there were 14 cases involving marijuana possession, and one incident of trafficking. Other (opiates, prescription medication, ecstasy) offences amounted to five.
“Methamphetamine usage has surfaced amongst Taber’s illicit drug users,” the report states. “Until late 2017 meth usage in Taber had been relatively non-existent… the increasing prevalence of meth within Taber’s drug subculture can be attributed to the recent practice of drug dealers cutting their cocaine supply with meth.”
These statistics would account for an overall decrease in the drug-related crime rate of 67 per cent in 2017 over 2016.
“The statistics within the drug offence category… are consistent with information collected by the Taber Police Service that indicate the current drugs of choice among Taber’s drug users are marijuana, cocaine and meth.”
There were also 14 issues involving the Child Welfare Act in 2017, as well as 122 incidents under the Liquor Act, 73 under the Mental Health Act, and 532 infractions involving municipal bylaws.