Kitchener-Waterloo

Calls to police return to pre-pandemic levels with more vehicle, residential break-ins: Larkin

Waterloo regional police officers are responding to a growing number of calls around thefts from vehicles and residential break and enters, Chief Bryan Larkin says.

Drunken behaviour calls are down but response to people violating personal bubble rules are up

Waterloo regional police officers are starting to see more calls for thefts from vehicles and break and enters at residential properties, Chief Bryan Larkin says. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Police are responding to a growing number of calls for thefts from vehicles and residential break-ins, Waterloo Regional Police Service Chief Bryan Larkin says.

Earlier in the pandemic, police saw more calls for commercial break and enters as businesses were empty while residential break-ins declined, Larkin said Wednesday during a media briefing following the police services board meeting.

"More recently, in the last two to three weeks, we've seen an increase in theft from vehicles as the weather has changed," said Larkin.

"It's obviously been very warm into the evening, so we're seeing more people out and about, so that follows similar trends of June and July where theft from vehicles occur," he said, adding with more people going back to work, there has been an increase to home break and enters, too.

Less calls at beginning of the pandemic

Person-on-person robberies are also on the upswing, Larkin said. In a 24-hour period on Saturday, there were five such robberies throughout the region.

"That's, once again, related to people being out and about," he said.

Fraud and phishing scams have been on the rise during the pandemic as well, Larkin noted.

In general, the number of calls from the public to the Waterloo Regional Police Service has returned to pre-pandemic levels, he said.

Back in March when stores, offices and other businesses were shut down as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19, police saw an eight to 10 per cent dip in calls, he said.

Call volumes have now returned to the average seen in 2019.

More calls about gatherings, personal bubbles

Any other summer, core areas of the cities would generally be very busy from Thursday evening and through the weekend as people go to restaurants and bars and police would expect calls for disturbances or "liquor-related behaviour," Larkin said.

"We've not seen that in some of the core areas," he said.

But there has been an increase in people not following the provincial emergency orders about gatherings and personal bubbles.

"People expanding their social bubbles where bylaw are being called. Those types of calls where they may request police support and police assistance, we're starting to see some of that," he said.

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