British Columbia

Kelowna RCMP blame crime spike on low oil prices and high unemployment

Kelowna RCMP say increasing unemployment in town and the low price of oil have contributed to a spike in crime.

The crime rate in Kelowna increased by 11 percent in 2015 according to RCMP

The lagging economy in B.C.’s interior is a major factor when it comes to crime in the city, say Kelowna RCMP. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Kelowna RCMP say increasing unemployment in town and low oil prices have contributed to a spike in crime.

The crime rate in Kelowna increased by 11 percent in 2015, which signaled the end to two years of declining crime in the area, according to RCMP Superintendent Nick Romanchuck.

Some crimes spiked more than others, with the number of thefts from cars shooting up by 40 percent in 2015, he said.

The lagging economy in B.C.'s interior is a major factor when it comes to crime, said Romanchuck.

"Definitely there's been a significant increase in the unemployment rate in Kelowna."

The city also sees people coming to the province from Alberta, where the oil industry is slowing down.

"As the price of oil has dropped, we've seen an increase in the number of people from Alberta and elsewhere that we're dealing with on a fairly regular basis," he said.

The increase in crime has kept officers busy. Kelowna RCMP arrest people during nearly every night shift, which used to be unusual for the department, said Romanchuck.

"We're arresting them as they are leaving break and enters, as they are driving through the community. We're stopping cars and seizing guns. That's a fairly regular occurrence."

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