Add a crime spree to Alberta’s troubles.
Canada’s foremost oil producer saw a record number of crimes in 2015 as break-and-enters, petty thefts and vehicle thefts rose, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday, driving up the national rate for the first time in 12 years. Alberta’s crime severity index jumped 18 percent, the largest spike on record for a province and the most since Saskatchewan’s 14 percent increase in 2003.
Alberta, once the nation’s growth engine, is struggling with the collapse in crude oil prices. Its economy, which contracted 4 percent last year and is due to shrink another 2.2 percent this year, suffered another setback in May when wildfires knocked about 1 million barrels of oil production a day offline.
Alberta’s most populous city and corporate oil hub Calgary, saw the largest increase in crime severity of any municipality in Canada, with a 29 percent increase from a year earlier, Statistics Canada said.
Crime rose nationally by every measure in 2015, Statistics Canada said, with increases in the total volume, the severity index and the crime rate based on population. Seven of 10 provinces reported an increase in crime severity.
Total police-reported crimes excluding traffic violations rose to 1.9 million nationally, roughly 70,000 more than in 2014, while the crime rate rose 3 percent -- the first increase since 2003. The Crime Severity Index, which measures severity and volume, rose 5 percent, also the first increase since 2003.
Saskatchewan, another major oil and gas producer, saw a 10 percent increase in the crime index and led the country with the highest index rate and general crime rate. The high index figures in Western provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, “can be partly attributed to the relatively high number of incidents of breaking and entering,” Statistics Canada reported.
The data show crime has declined broadly in Canada over the past two decades, with the crime rate peaking in 1991 at a rate twice as high as in 2015, even with last year’s increase.