Violent crimes rose in 2022, car thefts skyrocketed: Montreal police
The annual report for the Montreal police service (SPVM) shows that crime went up dramatically in 2022 and, taking COVID-19 pandemic numbers into account, violent crimes have been on the rise overall since 2017. In addition, vehicle thefts skyrocketed, having more than doubled since pre-pandemic years.
According to the SPVM's 2022 Activity Report, there were 27,389 "crimes against the person" reported in 2022, which is up over 2,000 more reports than in 2021 (25,130). That number is substantially higher than pre-pandemic numbers in 2019 (23,694), 2018 (20,593) and 2017 (20,217).
"While it is risky at this time to determine whether this is an emerging trend or to identify the underlying causes, several assumptions can be made," the SPVM said in its report that was released Friday. "The impact of the disruptions experienced during the pandemic, isolation, and erosion of the social fabric are factors that can be considered. Nevertheless, regardless of the reasons, the evolution of crime remains a primary focus of the SPVM."
Homicides continue to trend upward, with 41 reported in 2022, up four from the year prior but higher than by a dozen compared to pre-pandemic numbers: 2019, 25; 2018, 32; and 2017, 24.
Attempted homicides, however, were down to 100 in 2022 from 139 in 2021 and 122 in 2019.
Police say that half of the homicides and 60 per cent of attempted homicides involved firearms. There were more than 1,000 more assaults reported in 2022 (15,818) than in 2021 (14,233), and that number is over 2,000 cases higher than in 2019 (13,275), 2018 (10,918) and 2017 (10,421).
Police said that the majority of the reported assaults are level one assaults, meaning they caused "little or no bodily harm."
The SPVM said this stat is in line with pan-Canadian crime trends.
"In Montreal, the number of crimes against the person reported in 2022 is in line with this trend with an increase of 21.6 per cent compared to the average in the last five years and 9 per cent compared to 2021," the report says.
Sexual assaults, however, were down from 2,365 to 2,208 in 2022, but that number remains higher than the pre-pandemic numbers which averaged 1,888 between 2017 and 2019.
CAR THEFTS SKYROCKET
While police reported a rise in robberies (2,468) in 2022 from 2021 (2,102), the numbers are relatively stable since 2017.
However, motor vehicle thefts, which is a separate category, rose to 9,583 in 2022 up from 6,527 in 2021 and more than double the pre-pandemic numbers: 4,321 in 2019, 4,345 in 2018 and 4,816 in 2017.
"Because the COVID-19 pandemic created supply challenges of all types, the supply of new vehicles and parts has been significantly reduced in the province, North America and around the world. However, demand remained as high as ever," the SPVM said.
"Criminals are therefore increasingly interested in exporting stolen vehicles and selling them overseas. The gradual development of new technological methods also gives thieves more tools and helps them steal vehicles much more quickly."
The city's opposition party - Ensemble Montreal - took credit for pressuring the administration of Mayor Valerie Plante to allocate more resources to police.
"After two years of pressuring the administration, Ensemble Montréal is relieved that measures are finally being taken to remedy the severe lack of personnel," said opposition public safety spokesperson Abdelhaq Sari. "These recruits should have been added a long time ago. They won't be in the field until 2024, but we need them immediately; this summer is shaping up to be a hot one in terms of crime, according to several experts. To this end, we've been calling on the Plante administration for the past year to present a complete and detailed summer plan to combat crime, including measures to prevent violence."