Break-ins on the rise in Strat­ford

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY BRIDGE STAFF RE­PORTER

Break-and-en­ters are on the rise in Strat­ford.

A to­tal of 32 were recorded across the city in Au­gust com­pared to just eight dur­ing the same month in 2016. Eigh­teen oc­curred in July, and while that was nearly half the amount com­pared to Au­gust, it was still 10 more than July of the pre­vi­ous year.

Strat­ford po­lice Insp. Steve Shaw pointed out the sum­mer­time spike is mostly shed re­lated.

“Break-and-en­ters gen­er­ally are up from this time last year,” he said dur­ing this week’s po­lice ser­vices board meet­ing. “When you review the stats, a lot of those are as­so­ci­ated to sheds be­ing en­tered, and un­for­tu­nately they do fall in the cat­e­gory of breakand-enter stats.”

Thefts un­der $5,000 also in­creased dra­mat­i­cally this sum­mer as po­lice con­tin­ued to deal with a rash of items be­ing stolen from un­locked ve­hi­cles. There were 72 thefts be­low the $5,000 thresh­old re­ported in Au­gust and 80 in July; last year’s num­bers came in at 56 and 33, re­spec­tively.

Most of the cases in­volv­ing un­locked cars oc­curred while they were parked in res­i­den­tial drive­ways. It’s a frus­trat­ing bat­tle for po­lice, as the main cause is own­ers sim­ply not lock­ing their doors.

“If they did, that’d be great. It would save us a lot of work,” Shaw said.

Mike Bel­lai, Strat­ford’s po­lice chief, pointed out there’s no spe­cific area where th­ese rob­beries are hap­pen­ing.

“It’s just kind of ran­dom,” he said. “… They’ll just go around and pull the han­dles. If it’s locked, they just move on to the next one.”

Coun. Gra­ham Bunting said the is­sue has been on­go­ing in the city for decades. Bel­lai said they’ve en­cour­aged res­i­dents to lock their ve­hi­cles through the news­pa­per and so­cial me­dia.

As for sex­ual of­fences, one was re­ported in Au­gust. None were called in dur­ing July. There were eight over those months in 2016.

Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence calls in Au­gust rose from 35 to 45 on a year-over-year ba­sis. They dropped from 51 to 42 in July. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into this year’s com­plaints re­sulted in 59 to­tal charges be­ing laid.

Last week, Strat­ford po­lice and Op­ti­mism Place Women’s Shel­ter and Sup­port Ser­vices an­nounced the Philadel­phia Model, a for­mat for re­spond­ing to sex­ual and do­mes­tic as­sault com­plains, will be im­ple­mented in the city. Strat­ford was cho­sen as one of four pi­lot project sites in On­tario for the model, co-or­di­nated through the Ot­tawa Coali­tion to End Vi­o­lence Against Women and the Ot­tawa Rape Cri­sis Cen­tre.

The Philadel­phia Model sup­ple­ments po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sex­ual and do­mes­tic as­sault com­plaints by us­ing ad­vo­cate re­view­ers. Th­ese re­view­ers, pro­fes­sion­als from the com­mu­nity with ex­per­tise in the field, op­er­ate at arms length from po­lice and the or­ga­ni­za­tions they work for.

Mean­while, mis­chief calls rose 34 per cent this past July com­pared to 2016. Shaw noted there was a se­ries of in­ci­dents where car win­dows were be­ing smashed in the city’s south end.

“A lot of those (mis­chief ) calls are as­so­ci­ated to that,” he said.

Over­all calls for ser­vice in July and Au­gust came in at just over 2,000 each. Those num­bers were higher than June (1,809), but around the same mark as last year. tbridge@post­media.com

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