Business Gets No Respite from B&E’s

The Province Sunday, November 9, 2008
By Mark Tonner

COMMERCIAL THEFTS: Figures remain steady as residential raids drop because of weather

There were 143 commercial break-ins for the period Oct. 5 to Nov. 1, a number that held steady from the previous 28 day period, which saw 149 commercial B&E’s

Among the high profile heists that took place recently was the brazen break-in to a high-end downtown jewelry store in which the thieves took off with jewels worth an estimated $500,000, VPD said the Oct. 16 heist bore the marks of a professional.

Thieves broke into Saatchi & Saatchi Fine Jewellery on Robson Street at about 4:30 am by cutting a hole in the ceiling of a back bathroom, then smashing through an adjoining wall.  The bathroom is in the back hallway shared with other businesses and beyond the store’s fortified back door.

However, Tonner says, the majority of commercial B&E’s are not that sophisticated. Often times they are committed by drug addicts looking for quick cash. “One fellow broke into a retail store and ended up trapped inside. He was stuck inside when the police arrived” said Tonner.

Construction sites were also targeted by metal thieves in the last month, with 11 thefts in the downtown core alone and at several sites near the Lougheed and Boundary area.

In Gastown, an area frequently targeted, police managed to make “some significant arrests”, said Tonner.

“The good news is Commercial B&E’s are down from the previous two years: Numbers are down 10 per cent year-to-date compared with 2007, and 18 per cent year-to-date with 2006.”

Tonner says good security is still the best deterrent:

“Invest in glass that won’t shatter from the heat of a blow torch, along with metal bars, and security guards.”

Residential Break-Ins Still A Problem

The Province Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008
By Susan Lazaruk

Most are crimes of opportunity, with some offenders breaking in to five or six residences in a single day

Crime has been dropping in Vancouver over the past decade or so, but homeowners are still being hit hard by residential break-ins; less than once every two hours last month someone’s home was broken into somewhere in the city.

Residents reported 349 break-and-enter crimes between Sept. 7 and Oct. 4, a five-per-cent hike over the previous 28-day period. Most of the month-over-month increase, between 11 and 13 per cent, happened in the east, including the Downtown Eastside, according to frequent stats collected and charted by police to assist the department in identifying trends or trouble spots.

West of Cambie Street downtown and west of Main Street and south of Broadway in the rest of the city, there was little change in the numbers of residential break-ins reported between Aug. 10 and Sept. 6.

“Home break-ins are a very significant crime,” said Sgt. Kim Serheniuk of the Vancouver police property-crime unit. “Some people are so traumatized after a break-in they move.” The unit’s nine detectives look over the 800 to 900 files active at any one time for trends that could lead to a suspect.

“If you see a particular hot spot, crime analysts can look at that area a little closer and see that the spike in reporting came from a specific building,” indicating one suspect is responsible, he said. He encouraged homeowners to report all crime, no matter how inconsequential it seemed, because it can show a pattern. “A modus operandi ties a bunch of break-ins together,” he said. “What today may seem like a file that doesn’t go anywhere may end up being part of the work of a serial criminal.” He wouldn’t release the police’s success rate in laying charges because “it fluctuates.” Most break-ins are the work of repeat offenders, almost always drug addicts feeding a habit.

“It’s not unusual that they do five or six break-ins a day,” said Serheniuk.

“The week following the arrest [of one suspect], the amount of break-ins in one area fell off by more than half,” he said. “And that’s just one individual.” Some chronic offenders with 50 to 100 convictions on their record tell police they get caught one out of 100 times.

Serheniuk said property offences are usually crimes of opportunity. “A good number of residential break-ins are a direct result of leaving doors and window unlocked or open,” he said. “Their way of hunting is they may just look up and see an open patio door.” And not always on the first floor. “Some people will leave ladders outside,” he said. “These guys just love that.”

“Reports, such as those from the B.C. Progress Board, show an improvement in crime rates since the 1990s, and Vancouver police numbers record a 11-per-cent year-to-date drop in residential break-ins over last year and 15 per cent over 2006.” said Sgt. Mark Tonner.

The VPD has a goal of reducing property crime by another 10 per cent this year, he said.