Mounties are investigating multiple break-ins in central and north Nanaimo where firearms were the primary targets.
At least five break-ins have been reported since late December and in each case, the firearms were properly locked up in gun cases, but so far a total of 12 rifles, eight shotguns and three handguns have been reported stolen.
In the first incident in late December, a side door of a home on Uplands Drive was kicked in and a a gun case containing seven rifles and three shotguns was taken. In the second theft, a storage locker at an apartment building on Mt. Benson Street was broken into and three rifles were taken.
Three other break-ins involved garage door openers being used, starting Feb. 20 on Rockwood Place when a homeowner went out to his driveway in the morning to find his garage door open and his firearms and Toyota pickup gone. His garage door opener was in his pickup.
On Feb. 25, a homeowner on Blackcomb Place told police he simply forgot to close his garage door before turning in for the night. Thieves made off with two high-end bicycles and a gun safe, containing three handguns and a shotgun.
On Invermere Road, homeowners returned from vacation March 31 to find the interior of their home ransacked and four firearms taken from a gun case. Neighbours reported seeing two men loading a white van the day prior and described the driver as being Caucasian and the passenger as of either South Asian or African descent.
In another incident, the homeowner parked his vehicle in the driveway, but left the driver’s window open slightly.
“The homeowner figures the bad guys went in with a stick and activated the garage door opener,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “A lot of these garage door mechanisms are quiet. You don’t even hear the garage door open.”
The homeowner never heard the garage door opening and items taken included mountain bikes, an air compressor and wetsuit.
“In one instance there’s three other garages they went to and the only thing they took were the firearms,” O’Brien said.
So far, none of the firearms stolen have been reported as having been used in any crimes. All of the firearms reported stolen had been registered.
O’Brien said thieves realize garages are being used to store firearms and other high-value items and he is cautioning homeowners to either better secure their gun cases or even move them to another location in their homes. Many firearms lockers can be bolted to wall studs and floor joists.
“If you’ve got a gun case in your garage and people can get access to it, you’d better think about doing a secondary means of locking the gun case, like securing it to the floor or doing a secondary locking mechanism,” O’Brien said.
Anyone with information about any of these incidents is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.