The number of break-ins to residences and businesses on the North Shuswap has doubled this winter, prompting RCMP to step up patrols.
“It’s more than the usual, average amount I’d say,” Chase RCMP Sgt. Gary Heebner said Wednesday.
From Nov. 1 until Wednesday, RCMP have been dispatched to 15 break-ins to seasonal and full-time residences, said Heebner. Six businesses have also been broken into.
He said the crimes have been reported from Lee Creek to Anglemont.
Officers are dispatched to an average of about 10 residential and commercial break-ins during the off-season, said Heebner. In this case, he suspects the crimes are the work of the same individual or band of thieves.
“When you get a rash of something, that usually indicates one person or group is responsible,” he said.
People’s Drug Mart owner Bill Long has been targeted at home and at work.
Thieves stole a generator from his Christmas parade float when he left it parked on his property one night. On a separate occasion, they tried hauling away a trailer full of pop cans, but one of the tires was flat so they weren’t able to, he said.
On Jan. 6, someone smashed through the front door of his Scotch Creek pharmacy at 3:30 a.m. and stole $2,700 in blood pressure medication, antacids and diuretics.
“They randomly grabbed a bunch of drugs,” he said, adding the culprits didn’t escape with any narcotics.
Police ask residents to add extra deadbolts to doors and lock sheds and barns. Heebner also suggests installing a security system, exterior lights and, if seasonal visitors, bars on windows during the winter.
Heebner said police have stepped up nightly patrols and are looking at past offences to narrow a potential list of suspects.
RCMP spent months investigating 25 break-ins at seasonal and residential homes in the area during the summer and fall of 2010. Two suspects were arrested months later.
In each case the MO was the same: the culprits kicked in a door and stole bottles of liquor and electronics. Heebner said TVs, stereos and booze is once again being taken.
“These are crimes of opportunity. They are grabbing whatever,” he said.
Long believes the crimes are drug motivated, adding there’s a big narcotics problem in the Shuswap.
Heebner said police shut down some local drug houses in the fall, but are following up to see if any of those perpetrators have returned.