A recent crime spike in Edmonton, Alberta may be partially linked to mounting oil sector layoffs, the city’s police chief said.
According to Edmonton Sun, police chief Rod Knecht said late last month that rising job losses in Alberta’s oil industry may be partially to blame for an 18 percent jump in property crime rates and a 12 percent rise in violent crimes.
Knecht noted during a September 28 press conference that his department took 9,000 more services calls this September compared to the same time last year, Global News said.
“When oil is up, we are busy, and when oil is down, we are really busy,” Knecht told reporters.
Last month, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers reported that Canada has lost 25,000 oil service jobs and 10,000 exploration and production jobs this year, CBC News noted.
Knecht elaborated on his comments on Monday, telling CBC News that he is “absolutely not” blaming the crime spike on laid off oil workers flowing into Edmonton from oil rich Fort McMurray and Cold Lake.
“It’s not about the oilfield workers, it’s about the oil economy. We are experiencing a migration of individuals into the city. It’s a cross-section of people from all aspects of life. It’s not one specific group over another,” Knecht told the news outlet.
Mayor Melissa Blake, whose municipality includes Fort McMurray, fired back at the police chief and pointed to her own community’s declining crime rates.
“It’s an allegation I think that says that anybody from here could be creating those crime problems in Edmonton just simply because they are out of work,” Blake told CBC News.
The Edmonton Police Department released data on Sunday that showed monthly crime reports have spiked since oil prices began falling last summer.
The report collects data stretching back to 2013 and found that rising crime trends may also be linked to population growth and local unemployment rates.
“However as the statistics show, the connection between the price of oil and crime rates in the city is clear,” the report said.
As CBC notes, the crime rates also appear to fluctuate seasonally, with summer being the most active season.
Last month, the Canadian Press reported an uptick in theft from oil project sites since crude prices began falling last year.
Most of the items taking are worth less than $10,000, such as generators and diesel, and only a few pieces of equipment have been stolen, the new wire said.