More than 4 people attacked per day in Vancouver as 'stranger assaults' on the rise, police say

A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer's uniform as she makes a phone call after responding to an unknown incident in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver police are warning the public after an uptick in “stranger assaults” in the city over the past year.

In a series of tweets, the Vancouver Police Department says its officers took a “deep dive into the numbers” of random attacks after noticing the startling trend.

Police say more than four people are the target of an unprovoked assault in Vancouver on a daily basis.

Officers found there were approximately 1,555 of these stranger attacks involving 1,705 victims that were reported from Sept. 1, 2020 to Aug. 31 of this year.

Of those incidents, 47 per cent involved weapons and 28 per cent of the suspects appeared to be living with a mental illness.

Twenty-four per cent of the victims were female and police say the majority of the victims were "simply going about their day: running errands, walking or visiting our city.”

Vancouver police say one recent attack happened when a man was running errands in the area of Quebec Street and West 10th Avenue, when a stranger came up behind him and cut his throat.

The victim suffered significant injuries and required emergency medical care. The suspect was arrested and charged.

In another incident, a woman was walking with her elderly father in the Trout Lake area when an unknown female - who police say appeared to be around 12 years old - walked towards her and punched her in the nose. Police have yet to identify that suspect.

Police say they were also called to reports of an “erratic and violent” man who started to randomly assault multiple people at a bus stop at Main Street and Terminal Avenue.

In that case, the suspect allegedly bit an officer and broke another officer’s arm during the arrest.

Police are asking anyone who witnesses one of these random attacks or who is a victim of one to call 911 as soon as possible.