Auto thefts down, robberies up in Langleys

Putting a single prolific offender in jail can apparently have a significant impact on crime rates in a community.

At least, that’s one conclusion that can be drawn from a quarterly police report offered to Langley City council on Monday night. RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke presented some startling figures in the police department’s dealings with career criminals in the two Langleys.

Cooke opened his presentation by providing council with a list of statistics, outlining the incidents of various criminal activities in the two Langleys over the three-month period from January  to March.

While commercial break and enters rose by 10 per cent (from 51 to 56) residential B&Es dropped, he said.

But the most notable figures Cooke presented showed an 86 per cent rise in robberies and an 88 per cent drop in auto theft over the three months.

Cooke made specific reference to the May 5 high profile robbery of a jewelry store in Willowbrook Shopping Centre, in which a number of people were pepper sprayed, adding that seven people were in custody for that heist within an hour.

He also told council that another person was recently taken into custody following a pair of violent robberies in the Township, in which the suspect attacked store clerks with a hammer.

But it was the incarceration of a single prolific offender which Cooke called “a contributing factor” in the near 90 per cent drop in automobile thefts during the three month period.

The man was recently out of jail for a short time before being re-arrested, Cooke told Council.

“I fear for the brief time he was out, our numbers will be up,” he said.

The car thief is one on a list of 24 prolific offenders compiled by Langley RCMP in March as part of a project that began last September.

The list identifies repeat offenders who will receive plenty of extra attention from police. Each person is informed of his or her status and told they can either carry on leading life as they have been — but with a constant police presence in their lives — or they can choose to make significant changes.

Police will work with those who opt to take the second road, by connecting them with the agencies most suited to their needs, whether it’s housing, mental health services or addiction recovery they require.

During his presentation to City Council, Cooke also outlined some of the other initiatives which the RCMP will focus on in the coming months.

The five goals he has set out are aimed at reducing drug crime, gang activity and property crime, while improving road safety and overall communication practises.

Langley RCMP members have been tasked with “disrupting” a minimum of 30 marijuana grow operations and arresting a minimum of 30 drug traffickers, Cooke said.

They will also be attempting to identify gang members at all levels of involvement, which is not as easy as it sounds, he added.

In addition, Langley RCMP will target youth who are becoming involved in gang activity, with the idea that police can “still intercede and lead them toward wiser decisions,” said Cooke.

The plan also calls for the introduction of anti-gang programs in area schools.

In an effort to further reduce property crime, the RCMP will continue to try to identify prolific offenders and “further engage” community volunteers.

Meanwhile, police will increase impaired driving enforcement by five per cent as part of their efforts to make Langley roads safer.

“It is the singular offense that can have the greatest impact on safety,” Cooke said.


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