Seven killings push Langley 2021 violent crime rate up; other cities see drop

Fewer property offences were reported in Chilliwack, Abbotsford avoided a 2021 rebound.

By Tyler Olsen | August 5, 2022 |5:00 am

This story has been edited to correct a data error regarding Mission’s crime severity indices and to amend our analysis.

Crime levels across most of the Fraser Valley’s largest communities either dropped or held steady in 2021.

But the crime story is a little different in each community. Langley had its highest homicide tally in recent history. In Chilliwack, property crime is down but violent crime is up. In Abbotsford, a pandemic drop in crime wasn’t followed by a 2021 rebound. And in Mission, violent crime declined significantly after two years of increases.


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Chilliwack

Over the last two years, Chilliwack has seen marked improvement in its top-line crime severity index, a broad measure of crime in a community that assigns higher weights to more severe crimes.

Chilliwack’s index, for years among the highest in the region’s larger communities, rose dramatically between 2017 and 2019. Since then, though, overall crime levels have declined significantly.

That’s the good news. But a closer look at the figures suggests the current situation isn’t so rosy. Although non-violent crime has dropped significantly, and is close to where it was in 2017, violent crime remains high: the violent crime index in 2021 was 69% above its 2017 mark.

Individual crime figures shows that while the number of low-level assaults has declined, there has been a disturbing uptick the last two years in the number of reported sexual offences against children.

On the other hand, reported break-and-enters and many other property crimes have declined considerably the last two years.

Abbotsford

In Abbotsford, the overall crime severity index increased only marginally from last year and remains below its 2017 mark. Violent crime also rose slightly and remains close to its level from five years ago. Both crime indices remain below the provincial average.

Abbotsford registered a significant increase in robberies last year, with 114 such crimes reported. (The number of robberies in Chilliwack also rose, though not so dramatically.) Police have also tackled an increasing number of extortion and harassment cases the last two years.

Like in Chilliwack, break-and-enters have decreased considerably, as have car thefts. The pandemic, and the fact more people spent more time at home, was credited for reducing the number of some property crimes in 2020. But even with people out and about more in 2021, many of those offences didn’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

One thing that did increase? Arson. Across BC, arson rates rose 14% in 2020 and 21% last year. Chilliwack and Abbotsford saw even more significant increases, with the arson rate jumping by 46% in Abbotsford and 26% in Chilliwack.

Arson is also amongst the hardest-to-solve crimes. Of 235 arsons last year in the five largest Fraser Valley communities, only 19 were solved. (Chilliwack’s police did the best in the Fraser Valley last year, clearing 10 of 65 arsons.)

Langley

In Langley, the violent crime index for both the township and the city rose in 2021, in part because of the community’s worst homicide year in at least a decade. (The numbers do not include the recent shootings of four individuals in Langley City just a few weeks ago.)

Seven killings occurred in Langley last year (three in the city, four in the township). That’s the second-highest tally for any Fraser Valley community since at least 2011. Only Abbotsford, in 2019, experienced more homicides in a single year.

Beyond that, Langley crime numbers are more difficult to analyze because the community is split into two municipalities. As could be predicted because of the concentration of poverty, nightlife, and social services, the urban City of Langley has a significantly higher crime rate than the more suburban Township.

Mission

Our original Mission story used the wrong data. We used data for the rural parts of Mission, rather than the municipality proper. The rural parts have experienced a massive decrease in violent crime over the last five years. The city itself, though, has seen overall crime trends mirror the provincial trend, with the crime severity index dipping the last two years.

The good news for Mission residents is that the city did see a notable decrease in violent crime between 2020 and 2021, with that index dropping by 13%, the first decline since 2018. Still, the index remains higher than it was in 2017 or 2018, and the number of the most-common violent crimes— sexual assaults, robberies, and assaults—have all increased from five years ago. 

Join more than 25,000 other Fraser Valley residents by subscribing to our newsletter. Every weekday morning you’ll get a new feature story and other stories, news, and events from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Mission and the rest of the valley. See a recent newsletter here.

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Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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