Raise a glass. Some good news about crime for a change.
Six months in, and the biggest good news story of the year is going unreported.
What would you say if we told you that crime in Winnipeg had dropped 26 percent in one year?
Well, don't get excited, because we can't make that statement.
But we can say that there's been a 26 percent drop in the ten crimes surveyed by the police department's Crimestat service.
That's a huge improvement and its not driven solely by a phony drop in car thefts. (Phony because there was no legitimate reason for the sky-high level of car theft in Winnipeg in the first place. To credit anyone with reducing car theft is like congratulating the local arsonist for setting fewer fires this year. If the provincial NDP, judges and probation officials had done their job, there would have been no car theft epidemic.)
The single dark cloud over the good news is in Crimestat is the likelihood we may recapture the unwanted title of Murder Capital of Canada again.
Winnipeg's 16 homicides to date is double what we had last year (2010) at the end of June.
So what else is new? What's the good news, you ask.
House break-ins down 22 percent. Ditto garage break-ins, with business break-ins down 21 percent.
Shootings down 45 percent (18 compared to 33 last year).
Muggings down 5 percent. Even if that's a reflection of fewer reports to police, it demonstrates muggings haven't gone up and that can't be bad.
Auto theft is down 29 percent. That's not the best news. Attempted auto theft is down a whopping 54 percent. The punks aren't even trying to steal cars anymore.
Sexual assault---no change.
Only robbery of businesses shows an increase---4 percent. Sounds bad but that's only 3 more places robbed than last year at this time.
The good news extends to the area level.
Most improved--the North End. Crimestat offences down 32 percent.
House break-ins in District 3 were down an amazing 30 percent.
Garage break-ins down 29 percent. Commercial break-ins down 33 percent.
Shootings, six compared to 22 last year.
Even robberies were down 12 percent, although muggings were up 2 percent.
Car theft? Attempted (201) down FIFTY PERCENT. Actual thefts (168) down 36 percent.
Most in need of improvement---the Inner City. Crimestat offences down only 9 percent.
Half the homicides to date (8) occurred in District 1. Last year they registered only 2 before Canada Day.
Garage break-ins up 23 percent. House break-ins, little change (-1 percent).
Robberies up 28 percent. Muggings down 4 percent.
Attempted car theft. Down 48 percent (to 87). Successful auto thefts (142) down 22 percent.
Needs special attention---St. James-Assiniboia.
Crimestat offences down 23 percent, but a pair of troubling increases should raise red flags. Garage break-ins (130) were up 37 percent and muggings up 15 percent (bad percentage-wise but number-wise only 47 compared to 41 a year ago).
District 2 showed the biggest drop in attempted car theft, 62 percent. Actual thefts were cut in half.
What's behind the improved stats?
Is it the heightened police presence in the North End following last November's double murder by a spree killer who has never been caught?
Has the addition of extra police officers (200 more since 2004) reached a tipping point?
One factor can be ruled out immediately. It wasn't because of more social workers and a 26 percent reduction in poverty in the city. If you believe the usual hug-a-thug crowd and poverty industry promoters, there's been no reduction in poverty in years.
It will take a closer examination of the stats to hone in on the reason for the drop in crime. Somebody wake the professional journalists from their naps.