Calgary saw a break-in per hour in 2015 as property crime surged

Newly released data from the Calgary Police Service shows a sharp spike in property crime across the city, with 9,077 total break-and-enter crimes recorded in 2015. That's a 56.2 per cent increase from the year before.

How many break-ins happened in your community? Find out in our interactive features below

Break-and-enter data from the Calgary police shows a major spike in 2015 compared to the year before. (CBC)

One break-in per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — that's how often Calgary homes and businesses were struck in 2015 on average.

Newly released data from the Calgary Police Service shows a sharp spike in property crime across the city, with 9,077 break-and-enters recorded last year. It marks a 56 per cent increase from the year before.

Insp. Keith Cain said the sudden surge has been frustrating for police, who often struggle to catch those responsible.

"A lot of times, there isn't any evidence left," he said. "Unless we catch the offender in possession of that property ... we may not get a conviction or even lay a charge."

The clearance rate on break and enter crimes was just 11.5 per cent last year, down from 14.1 per cent in 2014.

Insp. Keith Cain with the Calgary Police Service believes the increase in property crime is related to growing fentanyl addiction in the city. (CBC)

Cain believes multiple factors are leading criminals to target Calgary homes and businesses, including the economic downturn and an increase in drug addiction — particularly to the powerful opiate fentanyl.

"There was a huge increase in fentanyl addiction last year," he said.

"When people have such strong addictions, they become far more desperate."

Crimes of opportunity

Police have also been observing changes in criminal behaviour, Cain said, with many finding one crime of opportunity often leads to another.

"It can start with something as simple as a car prowling and escalate all the way to a residential break and enter," he said.

For example, a thief who breaks into a car and finds a garage-door opener can then use that to access a garage. Once inside the garage, the thief can often gain access to the house.

Cain said sometimes thieves will even load up a stolen car with goods taken from the same home and make off with the whole lot.

"I think it's criminals seeing that it's easy — there's so much opportunity," he said.

"They're not using these to pay the rent or to buy food and milk," Cain added. "They're doing this, generally, to support their drug habit, or alcohol addiction, or some other addiction."

'Target hardening'

Cain said the best advice for Calgarians is simple: lock your doors.

"Make sure that you lock up your car. Don't leave your garage door open. Don't leave property in your vehicle that would attract attention," he said. "Lock your house — even if you're just in your back yard, lock your front door."

It's all in the name of "target hardening," he said, and reducing the ease that would-be criminals can gain access to your property. 

"We're going to have to take a few more precautions than perhaps we did a decade ago, because the people that are out there are willing to take advantage of those opportunities," he said.

Break-ins by community 

The table below shows the number of residential break and enters by community in Calgary, as well as each community's population and the break-and-enter rate per 100,000 residents.

You can click on each column's heading to sort the data by that particular column.

(Note: The community-specific data in the table counts break-ins on garages and sheds as residential break-ins. In the aggregated city-wide data cited in the infographic above, police separate those from break-ins on residences, classifying them as "other.")


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