The Tofino RCMP has been experiencing a busy 2017. Year-to-date police have responded to 2349 calls for service, an increase of about 16 per cent over last year.
According to Tofino and Ahousaht detachment commander Sgt. Todd Pebernat, the detachment had 69 calls reporting theft, up from 49 reports of thefts over the same period last year.
They had 32 reports of Break and Enters (businesses and residential), up from 23 over the same period last year.
One third of the property thefts occurred in the downtown area of Tofino, between Lone Cone Road and First Street.
“The majority of our thefts and break and enters to businesses are occurring over summer. Over half are occurring in a two month period,” said Sgt. Pebernat.
“That, I think, is just because you have such an influx of tourists and seasonal workers.”
Pebernat got the sense that people from outside the community were committing the majority of those property offences.
“I should clarify that I can validate that with hard evidence because, in a lot of cases, some of the challenges we are having with the Tofino RCMP is identifying suspects in those cases,” he said, adding that at most detachments, police are generally in-tune to who the regular ‘players’ are.
“In Tofino, because I don’t think it’s the locals for the most part, it’s harder to know who the people are that are committing these offences.”
Installing video surveillance, proper locks, an alarm system, and good lighting were all listed as ways to prevent break and enters.
“A simple one is lighting. Having a well-lit business outside your business where your doors are is really helpful. It’s really simple, but it really does make a difference. Generally speaking, the bad guys don’t like the light. They like to remain in the dark,” Sgt. Pebernat said.
Good customer service was also listed as a theft deterrent.
“This actually makes a big difference. When you make eye contact with a customer, you’ve basically said, ‘I know who you are’. So if someone is coming in to steal from you they are probably going to think twice if you acknowledged them,” he said. Another interesting statistic Sgt. Pebernat made note of was the increase in mental health files. Year-to-date, there have been 82 mental health related complaints, up from 30 over the same period last year. These types of investigations could include Warrant for Apprehension under the Mental Health Act or a report of someone threatening to harm themselves.