Calgary police lay 600 charges, recover $850K in property after jump in break-ins

Calgary police have laid more than 600 break-and-enter charges over the past six months, after break-ins shot up 39 per cent over the five-year average.

Break-and-enters often linked to stolen vehicles and drug crimes, police say

Police say Douglas Sherwood was off duty when he spotted a man prowling his neighbourhood and drove into him before getting into a fight. (David Bell/CBC)

Calgary police have laid more than 600 break-and-enter charges over the past six months, after break-ins shot up 39 per cent over the five-year average.

"We're seeing break-and-enters across our city in all communities," said Insp. Mike Bossley of the CPS Investigative Operations Section.

The service's two new break-and-enter teams have worked on around 272 files and recovered nearly $850,000 worth of stolen property, police said.

The teams were formed this summer to address the recent spike in break-ins, with 23 reported in Calgary every day, eight of those being residential.

Police are linking break-and-enters in the city with stolen vehicles and drug crimes. 

"There is a change in our economy and there's a change in drugs in Calgary — more methamphetamine and heroin and other drugs," Bossley said.

Prolific offenders 

The idea behind the teams is to get officers working more efficiently to crack cases that might be linked, identifying suspects or groups of prolific offenders, and recovering any stolen property.

"It's about identifying who are the individuals that are creating the most concern. Whether it's residential or commercial, we focus attention on the most prolific offenders," said Bossley.

"A lot of people go to court and go to jail, and are then immediately back out re-offending again, so we also have another group focussing on those offenders that go through the system over and over again."

Recently, they've completed operations targeting downtown parkades and garage break and enters, residential break-ins and recovering stolen property including bicycles, documents, electronics, sports equipment.

Some of that property was recovered through online classified ads.

Bossley adds police now have a dedicated Crown prosecutor to deal with break-ins, working specifically with investigators to ensure the quality of investigations, and to help deal with offenders by knowing exactly what the Crown is looking for when it comes to making charges stick.

Unlocked homes 

Police are reminding people that in half of the city's break-and-enters offenders were able to gain easy access, walking right into unlocked homes and businesses.

"We're seeing a large number where homes are unlocked and vehicles are unlocked," Bossley said.

"Many people don't lock their interior door going into their home and some of these new garage doors now are very quiet. It's highly dangerous and highly concerning, this is why we're trying bring this to people's attention," he said.

They're reminding residents to remove garage door openers from vehicles, secure all windows and doors and keep car keys in an unlikely place where thieves will have a hard time finding them.

They're also reminding people to never leave keys in an unattended vehicle, especially while warming up vehicles in cold weather. 

People can report any suspicious people or activity to police immediately by calling 403-266-1234 or 911 for a crime in progress.