By Richard Leitner
METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Hamilton saw more murders, store robberies, bank heists and home break-ins last year despite a steady decline in most kinds of crime.
Yet even those categories experiencing increases were still below historical averages, according to an annual Hamilton police report on crime statistics.
The seven murders in 2012 were up by two from the year before, for instance, but fewer than the average of eight in the past five years. The 1,503 house break-ins were also below the five-year average of 1,671 despite being 46 more than in 2011.
Overall, the total number of violent and property crimes in 2012 fell from 2011 and were below the five-year average by three and nine per cent, respectively.
Among the notable success stories, vehicle thefts hit a 10-year low at 1,766, a drop of more than 60 per cent from 2002, when there were 4,670.
Supt. Dan Kinsella attributed the drop in crime to strategic use of resources, intelligence-led policing techniques and hard work by front-line officers.
“Where we can we are addressing the needs of the community, trying to make the community safer and making the community just a little bit better to live in,” he said in a presentation to the Hamilton police services board.
As in recent years, the annual report offered mostly positive news. Last year’s 306 street muggings were the fewest in 10 years, while the 20 bank heists, although double those in 2011, were still below both a 10-year high of 33 in 2002 and the average of 22 for the past decade.
Store robberies, at 124, were also up by 12 from 2011, but below a five-year average of 140. The report attributes most bank and store robberies to drug addicts needing money to feed their habit.
The 427 sexual offences were 35 fewer than in 2011 but in line with recent years, other than in 2009, when there were 359. Police and women’s advocates generally believe only 6 per cent of sexual assaults are reported, meaning Hamilton’s numbers are likely much higher.
Kinsella said police continue to encourage people to report sexual offences through public education programs like the “Don’t be that guy” campaign at schools, colleges and universities.
“This is a maintenance program in regards to continually educating people, continually reminding them to come forward, getting the comfort and confidence to come forward,” he said.