VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Summer is typically when opportunity presents itself for burglars — homes are empty as residents vacation. This year the trend is even more evident in West Vancouver. It’s not necessarily because more people are going away, but police still aren’t sure why there’s been a spike in break-and-enter cases.
This week on Ask The Chief, Tim James speaks with West Vancouver Police Chief Len Goerke about how to protect your home while you’re away.
TJ: Are there more break-ins over the summer?
Chief: “In West Vancouver there are. We’ve been having a bad summer for residential break-ins.”
How does this summer compare to previous years?
“We’re up quite substantially. We’re probably up about 50 per cent over a normal month.”
“That’s a good question that we’re working on figuring out. Certainly empty homes in our community is a big part of it. Almost 60 per cent of the break-ins that we have here are empty homes.”
How does a criminal identify an easy home to break into?
“It could be anything from driving around looking for signs of a house being empty, walking around the neighbourhood making up some excuse to knock on the doors to see if it’s empty or they might know the house is empty beforehand. Social media is not private. Most of us tend to post what we’re doing and so when you put on your social media that you’re going to wherever for two weeks, who knows who looks at that.”
Do most criminals creep your social media to see if you’re home?
“No, I don’t think so. I think the majority of burglaries are people who are just driving around looking for opportunity and it’s an opportunistic kind of an offence. I think through social media connections, it could come up that this person is on holiday for two weeks and it’s easy enough to figure out where they live, if you put a little bit of time into it, if people are posting a lot of their information on social media platforms. Then, you can just go there being relatively confident the premise is empty.”
Is it as simple as leaving some lights on to make people believe someone is home?
“There are lots of different things you can do, and that is one of them that we certainly recommend for our residents. One of the best ways still [is] for people to look after each other’s properties; to know your neighbours, and for them to know you and for them to know when you’re not around and know who to expect at your house when you’re not around. That way, if something suspicious happens, they can phone the police.”
Should neighbours park in your driveway to give the impression someone is home?
“100 per cent. We think that’s a very good idea. Things that might take five minutes or less for them, every couple of days — that’s definitely very helpful.”