Vancouver Police respond to rising crime in downtown core

VANCOUVER Police are redeploying officers in the downtown core in response to commercial crime and disorder in the business district.

“We’re hearing loud and clear from business owners and residents who don’t feel safe and are frustrated by rising crime,” said Sgt. Steve Addison. “We share those concerns, and we’re committed to suppressing crime and restoring a sense of safety in the community.”

Police are immediately increasing the number of patrols to the hardest hit areas – namely Granville Street and the West End – and will deploy officers on foot and by bicycle to increase the street-level police presence. This deployment includes members of the VPD’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, which will work directly with business owners and residents to address their growing concerns. The VPD is also working behind the scenes to identify and target chronic offenders, and to solve crimes that have already occurred.

“We know that many of these crimes are committed by a small number of career criminals, and we’re going to make life uncomfortable for them,” said Addison. “We also know there are a lot of people facing homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in the downtown core. We want to assure the community that these vulnerable people will not be the focus of our attention.”

This response is the latest VPD initiative aimed at curbing crime rates in the downtown core. It follows the temporary deployment of a Neighbourhood Response Team, created last fall to tackle street level crime, and the highly successful Project Arrow, which targeted violent and chronic shoplifters earlier this year.

During its 42-day deployment last fall, the Neighbourhood Response Team took 1,400 calls, seized 210 weapons, and liaised with more than 300 vulnerable people to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Project Arrow – launched in January following a 260 per cent increase in violent shoplifting incidents in 2020 – resulted in 130 arrests, $37,093 in recovered merchandise, and the seizure of 35 weapons in fewer than 40 days.

“We stand with the residents, the workers, and the business owners who are frustrated, and we will continue working with them to find innovative ways to prevent crime and improve public safety,” said Addison. “We also know many crimes go unreported, so we’re reminding everyone to call police when incidents occur so we can respond appropriately.”

All in-progress incidents, or anything that could put someone’s health and safety at risk, should be immediately reported to 9-1-1. Less serious incidents, where there are no safety concerns and the suspect has left, can be reported online or to VPD’s non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.