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Saanich police hunt brazen thief breaking into homes while residents sleep

Saanich police believe one man is responsible for at least seven brazen break-ins or attempted break-ins to homes last weekend. Of concern to police is residents are home at the time of the forced entries, and in at least one of the incidents the suspect entered a bedroom while a couple slept and stole a phone from a bedside table.

Police were first alerted by a resident in the 3900-block of Cumberland Dr. around 2:30 a.m. Sunday (March 2) after they heard a window smashed in their home.

By the time officers arrived, the resident determined their home had been rummaged through but it didn't appear as if anything had been taken.

"A basement door window had been broken. After the window was broken, the unknown person was able to reach into the residence itself and unlock the door," said Sgt. Steve Eassie.

A second call came in soon after from a resident in the 1100-block of Union Rd. Someone had entered a tarped area of a garage and rummaged through items, but nothing was missing.

By late Sunday morning police had determined there were at least seven incidents that occurred overnight involving break-ins or attempted break-ins to homes, garages or sheds, all within a small area.

One break-in, in the 3900-block of Quadra St., also involved breaking a basement door window. The suspect made off with a Playstation 3 console, a laptop, an iPhone 5, a backpack with textbooks, and a bike. It was the only reported theft.

"The greatest concern is the iPhone 5 was actually situated on a beside table at the time that these two parties went to sleep. … It's extremely likely that the suspect had located the iPhone 5 directly next to these individuals while they were sleeping. That is of grave concern to us."

Around 4:30 a.m., prior to receiving the report of the theft, an officer in a vehicle attempted to engage a man in the 4200-block of Quadra St. He fled on foot, leaving behind a Playstation 3 and a bike.

Eassie says investigators believe all these incidents are related, as the modus operandi appears to be the same.

"All the residences that have been targeted are residences with ground floor windows and all have been focused on the backyard of these residences," he said.

Saanich police have, in the past, seen homes entered overnight while people are sleeping, but Eassie says most break-ins, historically, are to homes where windows or doors are left unlocked or open.

"For somebody to be as brazen as this and as bold as going around breaking numerous windows to numerous homes, not knowing whether someone is home, that is highly unusual," Eassie said. "This is not the type of activity we would expect in our neighbourhoods. It's also very difficulty for anybody to protect themselves against (these incidents)."

Police advise homeowners to ensure doors and windows are locked at night, as well as doors to sheds, garages and outbuildings, and say residents should consider installing security devices, including motion-sensor lights or even protective film to make windows difficult to break.

The individual who fled from police is described as a white man in his mid- to late-20s with short, dark hair. He was wearing a grey hoodie at the time.

Police are asking anyone with information on any of these crimes – or if you have not yet reported a similar incident – to contact investigators at 250-475-4321.

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