Citywide, car theft in Winnipeg is down 16 percent, and Manitoba Public Insurance is giving it's "immobilizer" program most of the credit.But don't go giving high fives just yet.
The cure is going to hurt more people than the disease if Barry Ward, chairman of the National Committee to Reduce Auto-Theft is right. He was a guest Tuesday on CJOB's Richard Cloutier Reports. He described the cascade effect that MPI's immobilizer program is going to have on crime in the city.
We're already seeing the first stage. According to police, Ward said, car thieves are switching from older Chryslers and GM's to newer model GM autos, SUVs and trucks. But the crime statistics show an even more disturbing picture.
Attempted auto thefts have skyrocketed. They're up 93 percent in the first six weeks of 2007.
It looks like car thieves are breaking into cars, and if they can't start them they simply move on to the next target. The result, though, is there are more victims left behind with damaged vehicles.
Ward said MPI can claim success because its achieving its goal of reducing the public health risk of car theft---there are fewer stolen cars racing down city streets which cuts the chances of serious or fatal accidents.But for every car not stolen (154 fewer this year than last), there are three attempted car thefts (441 more). And all it means to the car owners is a transfer of deductibles---from MPI to their house insurance---when a car is only vandalized and not driven away.
But it gets worse.
Ward said that eventually, the car thieves will turn their attention elsewhere---to house break-ins.
Coincidentally (or not) the number of residential break-ins has climbed almost 20 percent over the first six weeks of the year (from 250 to 299). So, more immobilizers equals more attempted car thefts and more residential break-ins.
What a deal.
That's what we get when 250 known car thieves hold the city hostage because federal and provincial politicians claim they're impotent. "What can we do?" they cry. "It's not our fault" they wail, especially at election time.
Surely the biggest crocodile tears are shed by Liberal M.P. Anita Neville. When she thought she might lose her seat in the last election, she was all for mandatory sentencing and restricting conditional sentences. Re-elected, she decided that jail was too tough on car thieves and burglars (see above.)
when a Conservative MP from Ontario referred to "Winnipeg, where crime is increasingly a problem, and where the streets are ruled by guns, gangs and thugs", Neville showed her true colours---as a cheap parochial politician.
Everyone knows the best way for a politician to get publicity is to defend your city right or wrong. At least that's the old way. If she had a clue she would know that MP Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton) pretty much got it right.
Winnipeg is known across the country as the murder capital of Canada. We got national headlines when police arrested six members of the Bandido's and charged them with a mass murder of Ontario gang members. We got more national headlines when three policemen were shot while executing a search warrant.
Just this month police were looking for three gang members in connection with an abduction, extortion and sexual assault with a firearm, for two men wanted for shooting at a party house that wounded five people inside (never mind the two small children upstairs!), and asked for help in identifying the gunman who shot one person at a Jamaican club (the stabbing at the scene also unsolved).
Guns, gangs and thugs, anyone?
"It is outrageous, it is misleading ... I am so angry...They are casting aspersions on Winnipeg when there is all kinds of economic outreach happening to try to attract people to the city." Neville told the Winnipeg Sun.
Well, what is Winnipeg's reputation?
A check of Winnipeg internet forums finds that people are in two camps: those that complain about the guns, gangs and thugs; and those that agree there's a problem, but say Winnipeg is no worse that any other city.
Here's a quick cross-section of viewpoints from ordinary citizens (i.e. NOT POLITICIANS) outside the city:
Nerve Magazine (Canada's Rock 'n' Roll Magazine), June 2006
Sergeant Kelly Dennison, a Winnipeg police officer, and Ryan, "a transient Winnipegger who spends much of his winters on the streets here in Vancouver," were asked how the real Winnipeg compares with the Winnipeg in a new novel, Langside.
Ryan: Stay in Osborne after dark. You cross the bridge, you're running a high risk of getting stabbed. Stay in your territory. Osborne's pretty neutral. Nobody really does shit there. Even coming back from a show at the Royal Albert Arms around there is pretty rough because you've got to go in front of Portage Place and they've got the [Indian Posse] station there.
They try to rob you or go after you with knives if you've got money or something, or if you've got booze, or if you're just drunk. They'll just roll you for whatever. Stay on the other side of the bridge after dark. Then you're clear.
From a blogger travelling across the country....
dispatches from the west volume three: rolling through the prairies
dispatches from the west volume two: killerpeg, manitoba
I've always thought of a city's downtown core as being the place to be, where people gather on summertime patios for drinks, wander streets window-shopping, hang out in public squares or gardens, business towers stack up to the sky, that sort of thing. In this town, downtown was synonymous with crime, muggings, stabbings, nothing good. Residents steered clear of downtown, going to lengths even in the daytime to avoid a downtown bus transfer. The city's response? A marketing campaign designed to re-kindle positive associations with downtown, almost in a touristy vein - Come have a good time, DOWN TOWN! Giant posters and bus shelter ads feature bright-eyed, smiling white families and couples, having a whale of a time on their respective downtown sight-seeing vacations. It's a little bananas.
From 13thman.com, somebody planning to come to Winnipeg for the Grey Cup....
Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:29 pm Post subject: bc49 wrote:
I am going to offend everyone because politically correct is not what I am about. Is Winnipeg a rough town? Sure all decent sized urban areas have areas you tend to avoid after dark but Winnipeg - from what I have heard over the years - seems to have a real bad rep. Roaming gangs of ABORIGINAL youth shooting it up with newly arrived AFRICAN gangs and both will kick a WHITE persons ass for venturing in their 'hood. With the cops doing little about it. I don't know maybe someone from Regina made this stuff up but much to the dismay of Tourism Winnipeg it seems to be a well travelled rumour. I only ask cuz I am going there this November and wonder if I should bring my hired goons for night travels.
Neville knows Winnipeg's reputation.
But like a cheap politico pretends she's pretending to be angry, pimping for voter sympathy. Because that's what it's all about.
She's looking at another election and she's scared. Again.
Last time she had to carry the albatross of Adscam. This year she's running away from the Liberal Party's flirtation with the anti-Israel left during the Lebanon crisis. In a strong Jewish riding, such a thing could tip the scales and Neville knows it. So she has launched a pre-emptive strike to become the great defender of Winnipeg's honour.
Neville is nothing more than a 64-year-old scold. She's a former school trustee who never outgrew the schoolyard where she was the class tattletale. Her entire career is one long shrill whine.
Conservative MPPierre Poilievre. "He should apologize."
Conservative MP Colin Mayes, who laughed at a joke she didn't like. "He should resign immediately."
Conservative MP Brian Pallister, who considered running for leader of the Manitoba Tories. "Call in the federal ethics commissioner to investigate his expenses."
Just this morning, radio station CJOB reported on yet another shooting in the heart of Winnipeg.
Sometime overnight, a man was shot in the back of the head by a pellet gun, right in front of the University of Winnipeg.
He was bleeding profusely from the wound and left wondering what column would Neville put this incident into - guns, gangs, or thugs.
Or should he ask his assailant to apologize for ruining Neville's fantasy.