Residents question city councillors and staff during the second of three community engagement meetings Wednesday night at Tyson Elementary. The meeting included information about the Fraser Valley Sweep initiative aimed at fighting property crimes.

Residents question city councillors and staff during the second of three community engagement meetings Wednesday night at Tyson Elementary. The meeting included information about the Fraser Valley Sweep initiative aimed at fighting property crimes.

Joint force takes aim at property crime in Chilliwack

Chilliwack RCMP are joining forces with other police detachments in the eastern Fraser Valley to curb a significant increase property crime.

Chilliwack RCMP are joining forces with other police detachments in the eastern Fraser Valley to curb a significant increase property crime.

Called “Project Valley Sweep,” the operation will target prolific offenders in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission.

The move comes as crime rates for break and enters, auto thefts and thefts from vehicles climb 20 to 35 per cent over the previous year.

Chilliwack RCMP Insp. Davy Lee outlined of how the strategy would work during a City of Chilliwack “community engagement meeting” Wednesday evening at Tyson Elementary.

He said a seven-member team of officers from Abbotsford police, and the Chilliwack and Mission RCMP detachments has been created. Working with probation officers and Crown counsel, the team will track repeat and chronic offenders from an identified list. They’ll make sure their court conditions are being met, curfews are being maintained, and other court imposed orders are being complied with.

The current project will run for three months, but will run longer if necessary, he said.

Those who get caught up in Valley Sweep, Insp. Lee added, will be clearly identified as prolific offenders when they come before the courts.

RCMP Superintendent Deanne Burleigh, Officer in Charge of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment which includes Chilliwack, said police take property crimes seriously.

“We are overtly targeting property crime offenders as part of our commitment to keeping our citizens and their property safe,” she said in a joint statement released Wednesday.

The joint nature of the operation, she added, is because police have noted offenders travelling between communities, committing crime or dealing in stolen goods.

“These offenders commit crime across jurisdictions, therefore, to be effective, we are policing across jurisdictions,” said Supt. Burleigh.

The effort will not be confined to strict enforcement, said Abbotsford Chief Constable Bob Rich.

“An unfortunate aspect of repeat property crime offenders who we are dealing with is that they are addicted to drugs and steal to be able to buy drugs,” he said. “They will continue to commit crime until they are either helped to beat their addiction, or they get locked up.  One part of this program is to offer help to offenders we arrest who want to get off this vicious cycle.”

Crime Analysts from the three police agencies will play an integral role in identifying the targets for the project, the three departments said.