Homicides down, but overall crime rose in Montreal in 2023: police

Click to play video: 'Homicides, gun violence on decline in Montreal: police'
Homicides, gun violence on decline in Montreal: police
Related: Montreal police say a year-over-year drop in the number of homicides in the city is a sign that violence-prevention and crime-fighting strategies are paying off. As Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports, gun violence in the city is also on the decline. – Jan 22, 2024

While murders were down, the overall crime rate in Montreal was up in 2023, largely driven by offences such as assaults, robberies and car thefts, police announced.

The force’s 2023 annual report published Monday found that Criminal Code infractions were up 12 per cent from 2022 and were 24.5 per cent higher than the average of the previous five years.

Montreal police Chief Fady Dagher says the increase comes largely from assaults and other crimes against persons, as well as from property crimes, including car thefts.

Dagher notes that homicides dropped to 31 in 2023 compared to 42 the previous year, attempted murders were trending lower and “armed violence incidents” decreased by 26 per cent.

“This is a positive result, but we remain fully aware of the importance of continuing our efforts on several fronts in 2024,” he said. “We’re not done yet. We still have great challenges ahead of us.”

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The report noted skyrocketing car thefts, which it attributed to COVID-19-era supply chain disruptions that caused values to rise. It said 11,756 vehicles were stolen in Montreal last year, compared with 9,583 in 2022 and just 4,345 in 2018.

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The force also said it arrested 538 people in connection with the thefts last year and recovered 6,384 vehicles.

Click to play video: 'Nearly 600 stolen vehicles recovered at Montreal port'
Nearly 600 stolen vehicles recovered at Montreal port

Fraud, break and enter and simple thefts were all up in 2023, and the report suggested that inflation might be to blame.

“The rising cost of living and financial precariousness that it may have caused could have incited some people to commit theft,” it noted.

There were 353 hate crimes and 171 hateful incidents in 2023, which Dagher described as a record. The vast majority of the victims are targeted due to ethnic or national origin, skin colour, or religion, it found.

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Dagher said the police’s strategy in the coming years will include taking a more proactive approach to crime prevention and connecting with and reassuring a public whose sense of security he acknowledged can be fragile.

“Strategy number 1,” he said, is “earning” the trust of Montrealers.

“The words are very important,” he said. “Earning means that we don’t have it yet.”

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