The number of residential break-ins in central Ottawa nearly doubled over the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year, so police are warning residents and business owners to be vigilant with theft on the rise.
According to data obtained by Radio-Canada through access to information, between January 1 and June 20 of this year there were 212 residential break-ins reported in the Ottawa Police Service's Central Division, which covers the area bordered by Island Park Drive to the west, Aviation Parkway to the east and Riverside Drive to the south.
That's an 88 per cent increase over the same period in 2015, when 113 residential break-ins were reported for the same area.
"The investigators have looked at — statistic-wise — an increase in the central area," said Ottawa police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit. "A lot of residential break and enters."
Break-ins increasing across Ottawa
The increase follows a city-wide trend, which saw a total of 1,315 residential break-ins reported to police in 2015, a jump of 11 per cent over the 1,187 incidents reported in 2014.
"That's awful. But it's kind of understandable for this area, sometimes," said Centretown resident Jenny Bruce.
"I do have friends that have experienced break-ins. I mostly find it's folks that are desperate for some quick cash," said Mandi Lunan, who also lives in Centretown.
Benoit said break-ins tend to increase when the weather gets warmer. "There's different reasons, but one of them usually at this time of year is the nice weather," he said.
"People are leaving windows open, mostly towards the basement and first level, as well as front doors unlocked. And these crimes are committed as an opportunity, so a lot of people are checking doors, checking windows, and when there is one that's found, they'll take that risk to enter the residence and steal items."
Thieves tend to target smaller items of large value, like wallets, purses, electronics, and jewelry, according to Benoit.
Businesses also targeted
It's not just homes that are being targeted.
Grant Burke, owner of Tall Tree Cycles on Wellington Street W., got a call from police and his alarm company earlier this month about a smash-and-grab at his store.
"There was glass all over the place," Burke said. "The door frame, the moulding had been torn off, the glass was lying out on the street. A couple bikes had been knocked down, and the cash drawer had been opened up."
He says the experience left him feeling "not great," and he believes the cash and merchandise stolen along with the damage totals about $4,000.
"You own a business, this is a risk. You own a business on a busy street, you expect it less so. But we sell bikes. People expect you to have a lot of commerce going through the door," he said.
Ottawa still 'a very safe city'
With the recent rise in break-ins, Ottawa police want residents and business owners to take precautions to keep their properties safe.
"Ottawa is still a very safe city," said Benoit. "When people are able to have a more secure home — locking their doors, locking their windows, closing them at night — that prevents a lot of these opportunity crimes. So a lot of times it's not because of the area, it's just because of the lack of crime prevention towards themselves."