If Edmontonians think the city is unsafe, the proof is in the rising numbers, a local criminologist said yesterday.

Minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Steven Lee Mills, 18, became the 35th murder victim in the capital city in 2008, after he was stabbed in the chest and died on a median on 51 Avenue between 106 Street and 107 Street.

Edmonton saw two more murders in 2008 than the previous year, when there were 33.

“We have a few prostitutes and a young man missing. Depending on what happens, the rate could rise to 40, which has never happened before in Edmonton,” said criminologist Bill Pitt. “This is a rough little place to live.”

Pitt said though crimes like car theft and break-and-enters are reportedly down, the murder rate is a testament the “age of innocence” is over in the capital region.

“As far as violent crime is concerned, and organized crime is concerned, and white-collar crime is concerned, this place is absolute nirvana,” he said. “The nature of the city has changed — we see homicides everywhere. Today, you have to pick your spots in Edmonton, where you go, and what time you go.”
Edmonton’s highest number of murders yet was 39 in 2005.

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