Apparently, we have some bad guys in this city who just can’t stop committing crime.
The Vancouver Police Department has a name for them: chronic offenders.
Take a guess how many are out there breaking into your house or car?
Yes, a huge number.
But when you consider the number of chronic offenders the department tracked several years ago, 345 seems almost manageable.
“At one time, there were upwards of 800,” said Insp. Laurence Rankin in a recent presentation to the Vancouver Police Board.
So where did they all go?
Rankin said at least 195 of those criminals no longer fit the VPD’s definition of a chronic offender: a person who has accumulated 12 or more property crime charges in the past 12 months. Some have graduated to more serious violent crimes, some are in jail and some are dead.
“It’s a bit of a misnomer that chronic offenders are exclusively property offenders,” said Rankin, noting 73 per cent of the current batch of chronics have convictions for violent crimes.
Some more numbers:
- Almost 90 per cent are male and 66 per cent of those have no fixed address, meaning they may be homeless, couch surfing or simply don’t supply the cops with an address.
- The average chronic offender has had 70 contacts with police and 48 convictions. Yes, 48. More than 140 of the offenders have 50-plus convictions and almost 60 have 75 convictions. Yes, 75.
But there’s more.
Check this out — 26 offenders have more than 100 convictions each and four have in excess of 150 convictions. Yes, 150.
Rankin said penalties for chronics have ranged from conditional sentences to two years, plus a day. A recent conviction resulted in a sentence of two years and two weeks for a residential burglary.
Why are these guys doing it?
At least 85 per cent have a drug habit to support and 30 per cent suffer from a mental illness — a common set of factors, as pointed out in two previous reports by the VPD that detailed the alarming frequency of police calls related to mental health issues.
The research showed, on average, one third of all police calls for service in Vancouver involved one or more persons apparently suffering from mental health issues.
Case studies of individuals in frequent contact with the police and the criminal justice system also illustrated the lack of capacity in the mental health system.
One of the key recommendations from the reports was that an “urgent response centre” be built for mentally ill people. It was never built.
Meanwhile, most recent statistics from the VPD show property crime increased 8.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 over the same period in 2011.
The most alarming increase occurred in policing district four, which includes Shaughnessy and Kitsilano, where property crime was up 15.8 per cent for the last quarter of 2012.
Overall, property crime spiked by 3.7 per cent over 2011.