The number of times people in Caledon who called police to report a crime or for help went up dramatically during the pandemic.
But the local OPP detachment Commander said what caused that spike won’t be clear until next year, as the impact of lifted public health measures becomes evident.
“We will know more when the 2022 numbers come in,” explained Insp. Mike Garant, during a presentation to Caledon council April 19.
In 2019 there were 24,711 calls to police; in 2020 there were 24,348 and in 2021 the number jumped to 34,890 — a 30 per cent increase.
He said the boost was likely linked to calls related to COVID enforcement and assisting with bylaw enforcement.
On average in the community, calls for service from police increases about one per cent every year — which is consistent with population growth.
“That was the first time in 10 years we’ve seen that kind of spike in calls for service,” he said.
THEFT ON THE RISE
Another trend in Caledon was an increase in the number of thefts — both over and under $5,000.
In 2019, there were 143 thefts over $5,000 and 404 under; by 2021 those numbers jumped to 207 and 433 respectively.
Garant said over half of the larger value thefts were connected to stolen cars.
He said in the last six months, 79 vehicles have been stolen from people’s homes in Caledon.
The under $5,000 thefts are mainly happening at gas stations — with reports of people intentionally not paying for gas, he said.
The number of people reporting being defrauded of money is also on the rise in Caledon.
There were 195 reported frauds in 2019. That number went up to 239 in 2021.
Garant said there is a wide range of victim types for fraud.
Officers will be working to educate the community on what to watch out for and is working with OPP central on investigations.
FULL TEAM BUT LEADERSHIP LOSS
For the first time in a long time, Caledon is also set to have a full complement of officers on staff. There are six new recruits scheduled to join the force in the spring.
As well, OPP Central is running a pilot project in Caledon having two full time staff sergeants instead of just one.
Garant said it’s been a “long time” since Caledon has been fully staffed.
But top position at the detachment will be changing.
Garant is retiring in the spring having served as interim and then permanent Commander of the detachment since 2019.
Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson thanked Garant for his service to the community.
“We had a lot of challenges (during the pandemic) but we powered through because of your leadership,” Thompson said. “You are leaving awfully big shoes and vest to fill.”
This article was originally sourced by www.thestar.com.