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Photos from the scene showed a black Mercedes SUV with sheets draped over it, parked near a gas pump at a Mobil station. (CTV)

VANCOUVER – The latest crime statistics show an uptick in violent crime in Surrey, where officials have imposed a hiring freeze on police officers as they push to replace the city's RCMP detachment with a municipal force.

In the third quarter of 2019, Surrey saw an increase in every category of violence crime except sex offences, according to new numbers posted online Thursday.

Homicides increased by 67 per cent, from three in Q2 to five in Q3, while attempted murders jumped 167 per cent, from three to eight.

Assaults only increased by one per cent, from 1,067 in Q2 to 1,077 in Q3, while sex offences fell 14 per cent, from 147 to 127.

Overall property crime increased 10 per cent, while drug offences increased six per cent.

In response to the statistics, Coun. Linda Annis noted the city is currently 52 RCMP officers short of the hiring commitment Surrey made in 2016. She suggested the RCMP hiring freeze approved in December 2018 is compromising public safety.

"The truth is that compared to Vancouver we should really have 300 new officers," Annis said in a statement.

"The RCMP tell us the number of service calls they’re handling is up four per cent year-over-year, and Surrey continues to grow by 300 families every month, but our police numbers aren’t keeping up. That definitely puts public safety at risk."

The municipal police force plan supported by Mayor Doug McCallum would see the number of officers in Surrey decline even further, Annis added.

"We need boots on the ground now, regardless of the colour of the badge, and jeopardizing public safety while we wait for a civic police force is no way to provide proper policing and resources that are needed right away," she said.

McCallum issued a statement Thursday calling the latest crime statistics disheartening, but not surprising, and suggesting they support his case for a local police force.

"Over the last year, I have spoken to many members of our community," McCallum said. "Our RCMP members are doing the best job they can, but it is clear from what I have heard from our citizens that Surrey would benefit from having its own police department."