VANCOUVER -- A haul of charges against people accused of burglarizing storefronts during the pandemic isn’t what it appeared, Vancouver police admitted after questions from CTV News.

Instead of the 70 charges the department announced last week, two men actually face just 30 charges – an admission that comes as the force faces a tough budget fight with Vancouver city hall.

Last week, police said Jesse Palanio and Shane Duhamel faced a combined 70 counts of burglaries, many of which were at retail stores, pubs and restaurants during the pandemic.

But court files showed the count of charges was significantly fewer, at 45.

And some of those charges were related to incidents that happened before March 15, when many of the social distancing measures that made businesses so vulnerable were in place.

Excluding those cases from before the pandemic began leaves just 30 charges – less than half the original number. In a correction issued Wednesday, police said they recommended 70 counts but that only 30 were approved.

“This is a sensitive and important issue. Real and reliable numbers matter so that council and the police board can make informed decisions and so that public trust and public safety can both be maintained,” said city councillor Christine Boyle.

Last week, Vancouver city council voted to reduce the budget of the Vancouver Police Department by one per cent as the city struggled with collapsing revenues.

“Council’s first step was to ask the police board to recommend to us ways they could find savings, so that those budget decisions could be as informed as possible. They declined, and council took the next step,” Boyle said.

Vancouver’s police chief and its unions spoke out against the cuts, with the chief saying he wouldn’t implement anything until hearing from the city’s police board.