Vancouver police say reported cases of property crime took a significant dip last year compared with 2004, its largest drop in some time.

A new police report says cases of possession of stolen goods and break and entry dropped by 16 per cent in 2005, while auto theft was down 15 per cent.

Const. Howard Chow
The police department credits its crackdown on property offences, which includes well-publicized stings breaking up theft and fencing rings.

Const. Howard Chow says just catching one criminal can make all the difference.

"Typically when you see a significant jump in stats in one area over perhaps a one-week period, it could all be attributed to one offender out there that's just hammering a specific area or specific neighbourhood."

Vancouver police have set a goal of reducing the level of property crime by 20 per cent over the next four years.

Simon Fraser University criminologist Neil Boyd says it's difficult to say conclusively what causes reported crime to drop suddenly.

He notes there are random fluctuations from year to year, and says repeat victims sometimes give up reporting thefts.

Despite last year's improvement, Vancouver continues to have one of the highest rates of property crime in North America.

The major exception to the downward crime trend was the 15 per cent increase in weapons offences, which have been on the rise for the past few years.