Ottawa

Out-of-town thieves targeting Ottawa suburbs

Ottawa police believe a "nomadic" gang of criminals is targeting the city's suburbs, breaking into unoccupied homes to steal cash, jewelry and electronics.

Neighbours 'on high alert' as group suspected in Barrhaven turns to west end

Dana Ducette said her Bridlewood neighbours are keeping an eye out for suspicious vehicles. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Ottawa police believe a "nomadic" gang of criminals is targeting the city's suburbs, breaking into unoccupied homes to steal cash, jewelry and electronics.

The suspects travel in groups and have robbed 16 homes in Kanata and Stittsville this year, where they tend to strike between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when most homeowners are at work, police said.

It's been a challenge because they are nomadic, they come and go.- Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Stephanie Burns

"We've seen an increase in daytime, bedroom community break and enters in those areas," said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Burns of the Ottawa police robbery unit. 

"It's been a challenge because they are nomadic, they come and go. And it's alarming, obviously, for the community that this is going on." 

The thieves tend to strike between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when most people are at work, police say. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Robberies follow pattern

Ottawa police are working with other police agencies in the Greater Toronto Area to catch the suspects.

The robberies appear to follow a pattern: The suspects back their SUV into a driveway, then knock on the door or ring the doorbell. If no one answers, they force their way inside.

There have also been cases where they've entered through an unlocked door to find the homeowners inside. In those cases, the suspects immediately fled, police said.

"They're non-violent. I stress that because these people don't want to get caught," Burns said

Police believe the same group is behind a string of break-ins in Barrhaven last fall.

Neighbours 'on high alert'

Residents of Kanata's Bridlewood neighbourhood say they're locking their doors and stepping up home security.

"[My neighbours] have cameras, there's a Facebook group. There's some neighbours that are patrolling the area. They're quite vigilant in looking for vehicles that don't seem familiar," said Jessie Hashemi, who lives on Sunnyridge Crescent.

"We're all on high alert."

Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Stephanie Burns says investigators here are working with their counterparts in the Greater Toronto Area to catch the suspects. (Robyn Miller/CBC )

Dana Ducette, who said her neighbour was robbed shortly after Christmas, said the crime spree is bringing the community together.

"It also made us reach out to our neighbours, so it helped us connect a little more, get to know our neighbours a little more."

Police are asking anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it, and to secure their valuables in a safe at home.

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