Business owners have been told to check their alarms, leave on their lights and remove cash from their buildings as the tally of rural burglaries continues to grow.
Rivers Police Service Chief Leon Flannigan said three businesses in his town were recently targeted and his force has handed out a list of tips to prevent further break-ins.
“The Rivers Police Service went around to all businesses yesterday,” Flannigan said on Wednesday. “We took a notice around that spelled out several things we’re recommending businesses to do.”
At least 13 Westman businesses have been broken into this month, with no word of any arrests yet.
Boissevain RCMP say at least five businesses in that town were broken into overnight Sunday, and the Rivers police add that at least three in that community were broken into last week.
Those follow a string of break-ins that were reported in late August and early September to businesses in Treherne, St. Claude, Somerset, La Rivière, Holland and Notre Dame, plus a night of five break-ins in Souris earlier this month.
In Boissevain, police say some cash was stolen, after culprits forced open a door. Five separate businesses were broken into, sometime between 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, and 8 a.m. the next morning — a physiotherapist, a newspaper, a hair salon, an accountant and a diner.
In total, between $5,000 and $5,500 was taken.
The week prior, overnight on Tuesday, Sept. 18, Rivers police say that three businesses there, too, suffered break-ins. One was an insurance company, another a newspaper office and the third was a restaurant.
All three had doors pried open, and a total of several hundred dollars was stolen during all three burglaries.
In Rivers, a fourth location was also broken into, but the business had been closed for several months.
The burglars did some damage to a door, but there was nothing missing.
Flannigan said the thieves may have scouted potential targets ahead of time, in search of businesses that didn’t have alarms.
One of the Rivers businesses had an alarm, but it wasn’t switched on, Flannigan said.
“If you have an alarm, please make use of it.”
Flannigan said that his officers have delivered burglar-preventing tips to Rivers businesses.
They’ve told owners to leave their lights on at night. Not only does that discourage crooks, it tips police off when there’s a problem. Burglars tend to turn off lights — if an officer drives by and the lights are on early in the evening and then drives by again and the lights are off, it’s a sign that someone may be inside.
No cash should be left in businesses, Flannigan said, adding that it’s believed that more than one person is responsible for the raids.
Police say they believe all the break-ins in the various towns may be connected, and they’re working together to investigate the crimes.
The Brandon RCMP Forensic Identification Unit and Major Crime Unit also joined the investigation.
Anyone with information about the break-ins should contact their local RCMP detachment or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from Grant Hamilton
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 27, 2012