Canada 2019 Crime & Safety Report: Vancouver

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report's publication assesses Canada at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens' Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC's Canada-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

The State Department's Regional Security Office in Vancouver, British Columbia oversees and manages safety and security issues for western Canada. The office covers a geographic area that comprises roughly 40% of Canada's land mass (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories).

Crime Threats

There is minimal risk from crime in Vancouver. While 2018 reports suggest upward trends in some indices, overall criminal activity is generally lower than levels experienced in comparable cities within the U.S. Property crimes remain by far the biggest threat to residents and visitors alike.

Organized crime, including gang-related crime, is an ongoing issue in the lower mainland of British Columbia (BC). Asian organized crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs operate throughout British Columbia, trafficking goods to the U.S., Australia, and Japan. Asian gangs have long had a dominant presence in BC, and there are indications that members of the Mexican cartels are trying to gain a foothold in the region.

The majority of crimes occurring in Vancouver are non-violent in nature. Theft from autos, shoplifting, and tourist-related incidents are the most prevalent. The downtown east-side corridor typically sees more break-ins involving vehicle and residential theft. Street crime targeting individuals for robberies is rare. In 2018, there were only a handful of reports of non-violent incidents affecting official U.S. personnel. These isolated events have not caused any change in current security policies for the U.S. official community.

Other Areas of Concern

On October 17, 2018, the federal Cannabis Act legalized the recreational use of cannabis throughout Canada. British Columbia police have not seen a significant uptick in cannabis related crimes and continue to focus resources on the current fentanyl crisis. The pervasiveness of opioid dependence continues to drive property crimes upward. Pickpocketing and theft from parked cars in popular tourist destinations, such as Stanley Park and the area around the cruise ship terminal, are of particular concern. While areas near East Hastings Street and Main Street contain attractive boutiques and restaurants, individuals suffering from addictions are also out shopping for anything they can steal and sell to support their habit; treat the east-side corridor of downtown Vancouver with caution.

Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)