Skip to content

Drug, addiction issues causing property crime spike across north Simcoe: OPP official

OPP official says 45 per cent of all charges laid over the last five years in the region were 'marked as withdrawn by the courty'
Southern Georgian Bay OPP Detachment Commander Insp. Todd Pittman.

If you think that property crimes across north Simcoe are steadily increasing, it's not your imagination.

As outlined for Tay councillors by Southern Georgian Bay OPP detachment commander Inspector Todd Pittman at a recent meeting, property crimes jumped dramatically in the township for the fourth quarter of 2023, going up 25.8% compared to the previous year.

“I am not saying that it is our homeless population specifically,” said Pittman, “but I know that with increased drug and addiction issues, we often do see increased thefts and break and enters — people looking for change, going through cars, stealing things, and looking to trade it for value.”

Pittman, whose presentation touched on topics including break and enters, recidivism and upcoming body-cam technology, said the jump was indicative of break and enters with respect to property and vehicle entries across the region, and not specific to Tay.

Violent crime was down 35% in the township between October to December 31 of last year compared to the previous year's fourth quarter with drug crime registering just one trafficking charge.

Violent crime clearance rates for Tay showed a slight increase in the last quarter (60% to 61.5%) and larger increase by 15.6% throughout the entire year (57.5% in 2022 to 73% in 2023).

Property crime clearance rates lowered over the quarter (16.1% to 10.3%) but showed an increased year over year (10.3% in 2022 to 14.9% last year). Drug crime clearance rates were at zero in the fourth quarter, but had a 7.1% increase over the year (42.9% in 2022 to 50%).

Regarding the big four traffic charges throughout the region: Eight seatbelt charges, one distracted charge and 19 impaired charges were recorded over the fourth quarter with speeding allotted 477 of the 505 total charges.

“This report here on the year-end said we had one fatal; in fact we've had two, and they were attributed to seat belts,” clarified Pittman. “But then you see a change in seatbelt (enforcement statistics), it is down by 38.7%.

“It's one of two things. It's either we've had a decrease in seatbelt enforcement, or, more people were wearing their seatbelts and we didn't issue as many tickets,” he added. “Overall when you look at our big four, which are directly attributed to life-saving types of enforcement, we were down 36.4%. In fairness to the officers, (they) were out there and they were working, because then you see a 36.7% increase in other types of enforcement – provincial traffic offences and the Highway Traffic Act.”

Calls for service in Tay Township reached 3,700 in 2023, a slight increase from the previous year’s 3,656 amount.

Within the waterways, the marine unit responded to 175 calls for service last year resulting in impaired operation charges laid on seven operators, and 12 operators being served warn range suspensions; Pittman expressed a push for life-jackets on vessels this year.

For the snow vehicle summary, the “extremely mild winter” kept the detachment down to just 71 hours of patrol with officers responding to 46 calls for service across the 200 kilometres of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club trails.

Pittman noted the staffing as full, and cited the move of detachment officers from downtown Midland to the Highway 12 location as “great for morale, camaraderie, and getting to work together.” 

Court hours declined 26.8% from 2022 to 2023, down to 1,476 hours, however, Pittman addressed the issue of recidivism.

“When we specifically look at courts,” said Pittman, “I ran our data as a detachment for the last five years and on how many charges we've laid… I believe somewhere to the effect of 22,777 charges as an OPP detachment, from 2018 to the end of 2023. Forty-five percent of those charges were marked as withdrawn by the court.”

Pittman acknowledged it as a factor in holding people accountable as well as its impact on community safety.

“I want to see the charges that the officers are laying prosecuted. I think that our communities expect it, I expect it, and we have to find a way to drive that home — provincially and federally — that we need this system fixed,” said Pittman.

Pittman also requested members of the public to volunteer for the OPP Auxiliary as their numbers were under half.

The Southern Georgian Bay OPP 2023 Q4 report and year-end report, including slideshow presentation, can be found in the committee of the whole agenda on the Tay Township website.


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
Read more