Police respond to Uptown break-in concerns

Constable Andrew Sharen of the Waterloo Regional Police Service speaks to community members. (Photo by Will Huang)

Constable Andrew Sharen of the Waterloo Regional Police Service speaks to community members. (Photo by Will Huang)

Police met with community members to ask questions and share safety tips after a slew of car and house break-ins in Uptown Waterloo left some with concerns.

“We’ve had a rash of break-ins in Uptown … so I spoke to some of the police officers and they thought this would be a good idea,” said Melissa Durrell, the city councillor for ward seven. “I think people need information.”

“There was a trend and it’s currently under investigation,” confirmed Constable Andrew Sharen of the Waterloo Regional Police Service

With car break-ins, he said, the thefts aren’t restricted to particular neighbourhoods, but rather see waves in areas across the region.

Thieves may cover a range of houses or neighbourhoods in one night.

“It’s kind of a run that they’ll do,” said. “A lot of times it’s drug related.”

One woman described taking an early morning walk through her neighbourhood, when she noticed a footsteps in the snow leading up to cars parked in a series of driveways on her street – a likely attempted break-in.

While community engagement is part of the services offered by Waterloo Region Police, they also do public education in response to particular trends or patterns in crime.

The thefts have mainly been described as crimes of opportunity by police, meaning that, in most cases, doors were left unlocked.

“[The break-ins] were all through unlocked doors. So that’s an easy fix as far as preventing that, because they’re not looking for the ones that are very hard, they’re looking for the easy targets,” said Sharen. “So if we can harden up our buildings and make sure that we’re using our locks, locking our bicycles, it’s going to make it that much harder for criminals to be successful.”

Ian LaBelle, a detective with WRPS who was available to answer questions, added, “If you lock your house, no one’s coming in.”

Sharen went through a series of ways people can protect their homes, such as with motion detector lights and additional locks on patio doors. He also detailed better ways to lock up bikes and what types of locks are superior.

Bike thefts, he noted, are often a problem in student areas.

Reflecting on the event, Durrell said, “Most of the people in the room have experienced some kind of break-in, so I think it’s also good to be able to connect with the police, for them to be able to connect back with what they’re doing in our neighbourhood.”

Anyone who sees suspicious activity or who is the victim of a crime is urged to report it to police.

 

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