Crime was down in 2008 both in Wellington North and Wellington County according to Acting Staff Sergeant Mary Louise Kearns, County of Wellington OPP detachment.
Kearns spoke to councillors here recently noting that she is currently in Wellington County, replacing Scott Smith.
That replacement is for a three-month period.
“As many of you know we are in a bit of a transition in Wellington County.” That came about following the retirement of Inspector Steve Walsh at the end of February.
“Hopefully by late spring, early summer there will be a new inspector, and perhaps a new staff sergeant,” she said.
Typically, Kearns is the area Crime Sergeant for the Wellington County Crime Unit. She noted it has been a number of years since she has been operating in uniform.
Her report is based on 2008 activities in the township. She commented that occurrences are down in Wellington North and pretty well throughout Wellington County.
“One of the highlights, of course, Mount Forest, keeps us the busiest. That is followed by Arthur township, and then Arthur village.”
“For those of you in West Luther, you guys cause us the least … so thank you for that.”
She mentioned that Wellington North continues to be second in terms of occurrences in the county. “Centre Wellington continues to be our busiest [area of occurrences] mainly because of Fergus and some of the issues Fergus brings us on a daily basis.”
The graph in her report suggested the number of occurrences in Centre Wellington is roughly twice the number of occurrences in Wellington North.
Kearns did a further breakdown in types of occurrences.
“Thank goodness, we’re down in the area of assaults, however [Wellington North] has increased in the area of domestic violence [compared to 2007.]”
She said the OPP continues to work with its community partners such as Victims Services Wellington.
“Typically, it is women who are the victims.”
The intent is to provide the services and resources needed at the time, she said.
In the area of crimes against property, she noted that in Mount Forest, the community was troubled last summer during the main street reconstruction with a lot of mischief, theft and break-and-enters – even in the business district.
“One of our biggest things this year is theft from motor vehicles.”
But she said, it is not just in Wellington North, where that is happening. “It’s throughout Wellington County. Typically, in the north, what we are finding is that people are leaving their vehicles unlocked, and unfortunately, leaving valuables where they can be seen. If you have a GPS and leave your car unlocked, it’s pretty well gone.”
Kearns said the same holds true for wallets and sometimes keys. She said the OPP has tried to push the message of Lock It or Lose It.
As for transients going through the county and committing crimes, “For the most part, I’d say, ‘No, they’re local.’ ”
She said that often criminals are in their late teens or early 20s, and crimes are often done by individuals looking for some quick cash for drug issues. As well, there is the economy to consider.
She noted in the week prior to Monday’s council, Mount Forest was hit with 10 thefts from vehicles. “Most of the time, they were from vehicles left unlocked.”
Kearns encouraged everyone to lock their doors. “It does help us.”
She noted that mischief charges are up and that can be vandalism of signs or property.
“Again, what we’re finding, is that we do eventually catch these people; they are local.”
She said liquor and drug incidences are down in Wellington North.
Missing persons, however are up eight from 2007.
“Most of the missing people are youth, unhappy with their home situation,” she said. “Eventually we do locate them.”
As for traffic complaints, “in Wellington North, they are down, which is wonderful.”
She cited an active traffic unit that works, as well as front line officers working to ensure the roads are safe.
She said reportable accidents are down considerably from 2007, but “unfortunately three people were killed.”
As for alcohol occurrence figures, Kearn said much of the decrease is due to a proactive Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere program. She said those now happen at any time of day or night, and any time of year. “That is something, I, as operations manager, encourage each shift – if they can, operate a RIDE program.”
Councillor Dan Yake wondered why Wellington North statistics are divided among the boundaries of the former municipalities in Wellington North.
“Technically, those places don’t exist,” Yake said.
Kearns explained the areas utilized in its computer system were established prior to the creation of Wellington North.
Kearns added that having the more specific breakdown is useful for the OPP in officer deployment.