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Vancouver police redeploying officers as crime rises in downtown and West End

Glass smashing incidents are up 500 per cent compared to 2019.
The Vancouver Police Department is redeploying officers to try and stem the number of crimes reported in the downtown.

The Vancouver Police Department is redeploying its officers to try to stem the number of crimes taking place in the city's downtown core and West End neighbourhoods.

"We share the concerns that have been expressed by residents and business owners as well workers in the downtown core, areas like Granville Street, Davie Street and the West End as the result of increasing public safety concerns, crime, vandalism, street disorder," Sgt. Steve Addison said during a press conference Sept. 16.

People can expect to see more officers on foot, on bikes, and in patrol cars in those areas, he added.

"Our focus is on community policing," said Addison. "Our aim is to interact more with workers, with residents, with businesses in those areas."

Goals also include helping businesses find concrete ways to protect themselves and suppress crime.

"Our neighbourhood policing team will be working directly with businesses and residents doing things like target hardening," Addison explained.

Police will also be working behind the scenes to identify and find chronic offenders who police believe are part of the current wave. One of the issues the area faces right now is a spike in smashed glass.

"Glass smash mischiefs...between June 1 and Sept. 15 are up 100 per cent in the downtown core from 2020," he says. "And those incidents have gone up 500 per cent from 2019 for that same period."

He adds that 2020 is an anomaly due to the pandemic.

Earlier this year police launched Project Arrow, a month-long program targeting violent shoplifting. Addison noted it resulted in 130 arrests, around $37,000 in property returned and 35 weapons pulled off the streets.

As part of the current push the police are asking people in these areas, and anywhere in Vancouver, to report any crime. Not only does it give police a chance to stop the crime, but it also allows them to collect statistics about where certain crimes are happening.

"If we don't know that it's happening we can't properly respond; we can't properly police those neighbourhoods," he said.

Underreported crime is a regular issue for the police these days, Addison says, noting things like theft and vandalism are "grossly underreported."

As an example, he shared the story of an incident that occurred on Sept. 15. A man smashed a large window around 6 a.m. near Thurlow and Robson, causing about $10,000 in damage. A woman saw him carrying a hammer and watched him smash the window. She called police quickly and officers found and arrested the man who was wanted B.C.-wide. He also had weapons (including an imitation gun and bear spray) and drugs like crystal meth and fentanyl. No charges have been laid.

If you see a crime in progress you can call 9-1-1. If it's not an emergency or after the fact, it can be reported online.