SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Police Service says it has seen an uptick in arson and minor property crime this year.

Police Chief Troy Cooper said he believes it's due to the pandemic and people having more time on their hands.

He said there were 125 cases this year - up from 65 last year.

He calls it a visible and unusual trend in the city and seems to be linked to COVID-19.

He said arson tends to spike in the summer, which he said isn't surprising as it is often a crime of opportunity.

According to Cooper, arson also tends to occur in places like sheds, fences and garages. It is often committed by young people.

Cooper said COVID-19 seems to be the main explanation for this spike in arson as the pandemic is the one thing that has changed from previous years.

"When there's less structure, when there's more mental health pressures on young people, they're more likely to offend and so we saw that, we've laid a number of charges in Saskatoon already so we can see what it is, if there's a pattern to the offender."

Cooper said there hasn't been enough information to indicate whether this is a trend across the province. However there has been some discussion globally on arson being linked to the experience of COVID-19, he said.

Cooper also said several categories of violent crime have increased including aggravated assaults and assaults on police officers.