Statistics suggest the city has seen a recent spike in the number of break-ins to homes and businesses, and thieves seem willing to go to great lengths to get in.
Take the case of McMunn and Yates Building Supplies, for example, where crooks cut a hole in the roof of the building, forced open a steel door and pried open a safe.
“It makes you feel kind of violated, really,” McMunn and Yates manager Kevin Marcin said. “You think you’re secure, and you try and take all the measures to make sure you are secure every day and every night, and yet somebody finds a way in.”
The break-in happened sometime Sunday night or Monday morning.
The building was locked and its alarm on, but that didn’t stop the burglars. They found a route around the alarm — they cut a hole in the plywood roof, made their way through the attic to the office area, broke through the drywall of the ceiling, passed through the suspended ceiling and then rummaged through offices.
They then forced their way through a steel door to get at a safe, pried that open and made off with more than $2,000 cash.
Marcin said the store was closed for four hours during regular business hours on Monday morning to allow for the police investigation.
“It’s frustrating for the staff, and frustrating for the customers, too,” Marcin said, adding the business is making improvements to its security system.
According to the latest Brandon Police Service statistics available, Marcin isn’t alone in his frustration with burglars.
During the first five months of this year, there were 64 break-ins reported — a 39 per cent increase from 46 reported during the same period last year.
BPS Sgt. Dallas Lockhart said that from July 1 to July 16 there were five business break-ins reported.
Meanwhile, there were 13 reports of residential break-ins. These statistics can include entries into sheds or detached garages.
The BPS is making a concerted effort to address the problem, Lockhart said, although he wouldn’t go into details on what that effort consists of to avoid giving away the force’s strategies.
“We are certainly aware of this and it’s on our radar, and there are certain enforcement initiatives that are ongoing,” Lockhart said.
There have been no arrests made in connection with the July incidents noted by Lockhart. While he wouldn’t say whether it’s believed the crimes are linked, Lockhart said that’s something the force will consider.
When it comes to the number of home break-ins, Lockhart said it may have to do with the time of year.
Homeowners are away for summer vacation, giving criminals a chance to stake out their homes and get in.
They’re looking for signs that residents are away — a buildup of mail or newspapers, uncut grass and a lack of change in lighting from night to day that would usually indicate someone’s home.
Crooks are also generally more mobile in summer than in winter.
As for businesses, Lockhart said their rate of break-ins is partly based on whether habitual offenders happen to be out of jail at the time.
Lockhart advises businesses to ensure that their property is secured, their buildings locked and their alarm working. It also helps to keep the property well lit.
Locking up shop at the end of the day seems obvious, but it’s not always a step taken.
Lockhart said that twice this week, one city business was left unlocked by employees. In at least one case, the oversight was reported by an honest would-be customer who wandered in looking for service.
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