A jump in residential break-ins in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the past month prompted Mounties to issue an alert Friday, and to advise them to be extra vigilant.
There were 63 reported break and enters in homes in the community between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3, said RCMP Cpl. Alanna Dunlop.
“I want to alert our citizens to an increase in break and enters that have been occurring all over our communities,” she said. “Our crime analyst advises that the majority of cases involve suspects gaining entry to the garage.”
In a large number of the cases, police report the thieves accessed the homes through the garages thanks to unlocked side doors and windows, or garage door openers left in vehicles in the driveway, Dunlop explained.
Vehicles, if keys were readily available, are being taken. Bicycles and dirt bikes, jewelry, and electronics such as iPods, laptop computers, and video game systems are repeatedly coming up on the lists of stolen items, as well.
While she said the stereotypical thief is usually a man between 15 to 25 years old, but investigators in this case are advising that some of the criminals involved in the recent break and enters are likely older and many are women.
“If you observe persons who may be in your neighbourhood for an unlawful purpose… we urge you to call police right away and report this suspicious activity,” Dunlop said, noting that citizens can help prevent being a victim by following a few tips.
“Together, we can reduce all incidents of crime and make our community even safer for all,” Dunlop said.
Police offer these tips:
* Don't leave empty cartons in your carport, yard or driveway. You are advertising the fact you have a brand new flat screen TV, laptop, or other desirable object to steal.
* Keep your doors locked even though you may just be in your back yard. It doesn't take long for a thief to slip into and out of your home.
* Close and lock all windows each time you leave your home.
* If you have an alarm, ensure to set it before you leave home.
* Do not keep ladders or tools on the outside of your home. If it can be used to gain entry into your home keep it locked up and out of sight.
* Always keep your vehicle locked even if it's parked in your carport or driveway. Don't be fooled into thinking your vehicle is safe.
* Ensure your garage is secure. This includes any side door(s) you may have. A quick check at night before going to bed can assure this has been done.
* While on vacation arrange for someone to shovel/mow the lawn and park in your driveway. It's ideal to have someone you trust, house-sit for you so your home is still lived in while you are away. If this is not possible make sure your home looks lived in.
* Use timers on indoor lights and tamper-proof, motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your home. Lighting is the most effective crime prevention tool since criminals do not want to be seen.
* Keep your vacation plans off social networks like Facebook. It is easy to gain access to personal information once it's entered onto Facebook or another social network.
* Make sure your house number is visible during the day and night. In an emergency you want emergency crews to find your house number as soon as possible.
* Install a door viewer so you know who is at your door before you open it. Know who is there before you open your door and home to a stranger.
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