Vancouver police say spike in thefts partly due to Albertans moving to BC

Click to play video: 'Vancouver police say Alberta economy one reason for spike in crime' Vancouver police say Alberta economy one reason for spike in crime
WATCH ABOVE: Brian Montague from the Vancouver Police Department says an increase in people moving from Alberta to B.C. is one reason why they are seeing an increase in crime in Vancouver – Oct 25, 2016

Vancouver police are suggesting Albertans struggling in a slow economy are partly to blame for a recent spike in theft from vehicles and business communities in British Columbia, citing a marijuana shop robbery and a stolen bicycle advertised online as the most recent examples.

“We are seeing a lot more people—just in general—move from Alberta to British Columbia and as a result we are likely going to run into individuals who recently moved here who are committing crimes,” Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague said Tuesday, noting he’s received “anecdotal” stories from frontline officers.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the Alberta economy is so poor right now and the B.C. economy is thriving.”

Two suspects from Alberta and one from Surrey, B.C., were arrested in connection with Sunday’s robbery at the Stressed and Depressed marijuana shop. Montague also said an 18-year-old from Alberta was recently arrested for selling a stolen bicycle on Craigslist.

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READ MORE: 3 men arrested following Vancouver marijuana shop robbery

Police didn’t provide specific data on the number of suspects charged from outside B.C. and acknowledged Alberta wasn’t unique.

“We’re seeing individuals from all over the country,” Montague said. “Some of [the suspects] have outstanding warrants in those provinces, whether it is Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario or the Maritimes.”

He said if offences are serious enough, Vancouver police will contact the provinces and ask for the warrant radius to be extended so that local police can make an arrest.

“I’ve been a police officer since 1994 and we’ve been dealing with out-of-province radius warrants for decades.”

Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin cited the struggling economy as a driving factor for an increase in the city’s crime in 2015 data released in July. The Statistics Canada report showed the city saw the largest police-reported increase in crime severity across the country at 29.4 per cent that year.

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Watch below: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin explains how the economy and presence of highly addictive drugs are increasing crime in Calgary in July.

Click to play video: 'Economy and drugs correlated to increase crime in Calgary: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin' Economy and drugs correlated to increase crime in Calgary: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin
Economy and drugs correlated to increase crime in Calgary: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin – Jul 20, 2016

Alberta bore the brunt of the increases across Canada, with the Crime Severity Index (CSI) in that province jumping by 18 per cent. It’s the largest spike ever experienced by a single province.

“In Alberta, the higher CSI was primarily the result of more incidents of breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 or under, and motor vehicle theft,” Statistics Canada said.

It’s a trend Edmonton’s police chief is all too familiar with. He pointed to the economy as a reason for the increase in police-reported crime in a past interview.

READ MORE: Edmonton police chief ‘not really surprised’ by surge in crime rates

“No real shock,” Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said in July. “We kind of anticipated this. We know property crimes continue to go up again this year – that’s driving it. The big driver is break and enters, thefts from vehicles and thefts of vehicles… and it continues to cascade into 2016.”

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“There seems to be a correlation between the drop in the price of oil and the increase in crime in Edmonton. … Always disappointed that the numbers are going up but there’s very little we can do about it given the tough economic times.”

With files Global’s Emily Mertz and Monique Muise

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