Nearly 95 arrests were made during a joint enforcement initiative targeting property crime by Chilliwack and Mission RCMP and the Abbotsford Police Department

Opinion: Crime prevention on the home front

Police crack downs like the recent Project Valley Sweep are only part of the solution to rising property crime rates.

Police agencies and politicians were praising the success of a recent joint initiative aimed at property crimes and chronic offenders.

After the numbers were tallied, Project Valley Sweep netted 94 arrests, and resulted in a two per cent decrease in property crimes.

But it might be a bit early to celebrate yet.

The three-month project was launched in April after officials noted a disturbing rise in crime – particularly property crime.

Police in Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack joined in a co-ordinated effort to find individuals who were in breach of their court conditions. They went after known offenders and aggressively ensured they were complying with court-imposed conditions like curfews that allowed them to remain on the street.

More than 500 people were checked, police said Tuesday, as well as 167 vehicles.

More importantly, during the three-month project they saw a 19 per cent drop in break and enters to local businesses (compared to the previous three months). Theft from autos fell 13 per cent.

But the news was not all good. Residential break and enters actually rose one per cent, and auto thefts climbed seven per cent.

And that trend appears to be continuing. According to the City of Chilliwack’s online crime mapping tool, residential break ins south of the highway doubled during the month of August, climbing to 22 from the previous July high of 11.

Of course, this is not to say Project Valley Sweep was ineffective. The numbers simply show its limitations.

Police have said from the start that enforcement is only part of the solution.

A key component is a vigilant public that ensures doors are locked, lights are left on, and the opportunities for crime are removed.

It’s a public that knows its neighbours, questions anything unusual, and calls police when something suspicious is seen.

Co-operation between police jurisdictions can target chronic offenders and restrict their mobility.

But it can’t replace neighbours who take care, and look out for one another.

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