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Hate crimes, assaults and vehicle thefts on the rise in Montreal: annual report

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Hate crimes, assaults, and car thefts were among the crimes that saw significant increases from 2022 to 2023, according to the Montreal police (SPVM) annual report.

On the same day that the Montreal police union released a survey suggesting that more police presence is needed on the island, SPVM Chief Fady Dagher presented the force's annual crime stats and strategic plan, which showed a 12 per cent increase in crime in 2023 compared with 2022.

Crimes against the person

"Crimes against the person" increased from 27,390 in 2022 to 31,009 last year, up 13.2 per cent. There were more than 10,000 more crimes against the person in 2023 (31,009) than there were pre-pandemic in 2018 (20,593).

The highest jump in that category were assaults, which went from 15,818 to 17,934 (up 13.4 per cent).

The 2023 number of assaults was 33 per cent higher than the five-year average.

However, homicides (31) and attempted homicides (110) were all below the five-year average.

All five-year averages should be taken in context with the COVID-19 pandemic producing unique numbers in 2020-2022.

Overall, the SPVM said there was a 26 per cent decrease in armed violence.

"This is a positive result but we remain fully aware of the importance of continuing our efforts on several fronts in 2024. We're not done yet. We still have great challenges in front of us," Dagher said at a news conference on Monday.

Hate crimes

The number of reported hate crimes rose 67 per cent from 212 (2022) to 353 (2023) and hate incidents reported went up from 72 (2022) to 171 (2023).

Police say almost 40 per cent of the hate crimes reported in 2023 targeted a person's "ethnic or national origin or skin colour," with 39 per cent targeting a person's religion.

The SPVM plans to implement two action plans aimed at combatting discrimination and racism (2025-2028) and improving equality, divesity and inclusion (2024-2027).

In 2023, the force also implemented an action plan to improve relations with Indigenous communities.

Property crimes

The increase in property crimes continued in 2023 with the overall total rising 11 per cent (56,224 to 62,384). The 2023 number is 24.5 per cent above the five-year average.

Simple theft and vehicle theft make up the largest percentage of property crimes.

There were more than 2,000 additional vehicle thefts in 2023 (11,756) than there were in 2022 (9,583). That number is well over double the number of thefts pre-pandemic: 4,345 (2018) and 4,321 (2019).

"For vehicle thefts alone, we made 538 arrests and recovered more than 6,384 stolen vehicles in Quebec and outside the province," Dagher said. 

Vehicle thefts have been rising steadily over the last few years, rising 22.7 per cent comparing 2022 and 2023 and nearly 100 per cent over the average of the last five years. 

  • 2018: 4,345
  • 2019: 4,321
  • 2020: 4,789
  • 2021: 6,527
  • 2022: 9,583
  • 2023: 11,756

"This phenomenon can be explained by the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shortage of new vehicles and parts. The scarce number of vehicles available has increased their value, making them more tempting to thieves. The vast majority of vehicles stolen in Canada are exported to be sold overseas," the annual report stated. 

Arsons (up 24 per cent), possession of stolen goods (up 21 per cent) and fraud (up 10 per cent) all saw double-digit percentage leaps from 2022 to 2023. 

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