The Nanaimo RCMP is warning the public to take extra precautions during the holiday season as police receive rising numbers of reports of break-ins to residences.
According to police, during the first two weeks of December there have been 32 reported break-ins, compared to 20 for the same time period in 2017.
The most recent break-and-enter was reported at approximately noon on Monday at a home on Asteria Place, which resulted in a 31-year-old woman being arrested after a resident discovered her in his home, preparing to leave with his laptop. The woman fled but was caught a short distance away by officers. The laptop was recovered along with items taken from a nearby grocery store. The suspect was later released on a promise to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in late January to face charges on charges of break-and-enter and theft.
O’Brien said police believe a number of people are responsible for the recent rash of break-ins, which have been happening throughout the city.
“We’ve had some along Hammond Bay Road. We’ve had some in the central [Nanaimo] area of Terminal Avenue. We’ve had them in south Nanaimo. All over,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.
A number of cases involved rear windows being pried open with tools found in backyard sheds. Other break-ins involve thieves entering through unlocked doors and windows.
Items preferred by thieves include small electronics, cash, jewelry, wallets, passports, alcohol, and in some cases collectible coin sets and bikes. In one instance, wrapped Christmas gifts and various other items were stolen.
Most break-ins are happening during daylight hours when people are at work and criminals have a better chance of not encountering residents.
“They know that most people aren’t home, which goes to show that the criminals are more interested in your items than you,” O’Brien said. “They’re more interested in taking your items. They don’t want to have contact with people. They can go undetected and they can get in and out.”
The frequency of thefts also always rises around the holiday season when most homes, vehicles and commercial businesses have extra valuables on the premises.
Home owners must continue to be vigilant, O’Brien said, while police continue to pursue those responsible.
“You chose to live in an area. You have a right to peace and enjoyment of that, but everybody has to be on the same page and report things that don’t look right,” he said. “If you see somebody in your neighbourhood that just doesn’t fit in. Just keep an eye on where they’re going. If you see a car that doesn’t fit into the background keep an eye on the car. Maybe get a licence plate. Report it to us because these people who are going to target your neighbourhood are going to target other neighbourhoods and that’s how we put a stop to it. You can’t assume that we know all the criminals and all the activity going on in Nanaimo … We can’t be there 24-7 so we need the assistance of the public.”
Nanaimo RCMP offers the following tips to help cut down on thefts:
- When away from home ensure that passports and collectibles are out of sighte.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
- Consider installing an alarm system.
- Engrave valuables with your driver’s licence number and take photos of them.
- Don’t leave garage door openers in unattended vehicles.
- Start a Block Watch chapter to help improve home security and communication with neighbours and police.
Anyone with information about recent break-and-enters in the area is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com or call 1-800-222-8477.