More anti-crime cameras coming to Surrey

CCTV cameras at Scott Road SkyTrain station has cut auto theft by 15 per cent in the last year. - Evan Seal / The Leader
CCTV cameras at Scott Road SkyTrain station has cut auto theft by 15 per cent in the last year.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

More surveillance cameras are on the way, as a pilot project using closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras is being hailed as a huge success.

A City of Surrey staff report shows that CCTVs have decreased the occurrence of auto theft in the last year by 15 per cent at Scott Road SkyTrain station.

Theft from cars rose marginally during that time, but it’s believed that’s a result of more reporting from people who have greater confidence something will be done.

“That’s seen as reporting confidence by researchers,” said Colleen Kerr, Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy manager. “Other improvements were the belief that crime was decreasing improved eight per cent; feelings of safety – 18 per cent improvement; feelings of safety with respect to property – 26 per cent improvement.”

Mayor Dianne Watts now wants more of the cameras installed in other areas of the city.

“The overall goal is to have many different functions with CCTV,” Watts said Wednesday. “What we want to do is have cameras we can move to different hot spots.”

That could include where illegal dumping is believed to be taking place. Cameras are also being considered for special events, such as Canada Day or Vaisakhi parades.

The CCTV report has not been made public and is expected before Surrey’s Public Safety Committee in the coming weeks.

The news comes amid reports that crime in Surrey is dropping in several areas, a trend being attributed to community partnerships, new programs and public involvement.

Between 2006 and 2009, total crime dropped 10 per cent in Surrey, while property crime plummeted 19 per cent, break and enters fell 20 per cent and motor vehicle theft stalled by 24 per cent.

The numbers came as part of an update on the Crime Reduction Strategy (CRS), but not all of the drop can be attributed to the CRS, which was officially unveiled in 2007 and funded in 2008.

Watts said while some major pieces of the CRS came later, much of it was in the works even prior to the unveiling.

In 2004, the RCMP, in conjunction with the city, launched a prolific offender program.

Ten per cent of offenders commit 50 per cent of the crime, most of it theft of property. By targeting that 10 per cent, police have been able to knock down crime by 27 per cent between 2004 and 2007.

Watts said having seven crime analysts in this city has been a boon to the program.

Recently, analysts discovered a huge jump in break-and-enters in Bolivar, a quiet community in North Surrey.

The RCMP educated the public about what to watch for. They discovered an absentee landlord had rented a home to a person who was committing the crimes.

He was arrested, and the break-and-enters stopped.

Watts is quick to note it’s the community effort that has resulted in the drop in Surrey’s crime rate.

“It’s everyone coming together and owning a piece of it,” she said.

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