A 53-year-old Victoria man is facing 26 charges in connection with a string of break and enters described as “smash and grabs” at a number of businesses in James Bay.
According to police, at least 14 break and enters occurred within a one-month span in July and August.
The bulk of break-ins took place been between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., but a few also happened between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Some of the businesses targeted include hair salons, small coffee shops and restaurants. The thief swiped small amounts of cash, leaving other items in the businesses behind.
“They smash the window, grab the box and get the heck out of there because the alarm could be sounding, people could have heard the glass smash and a quick egress is necessary to escape,” said Staff Sgt. Connor King with the Victoria police investigative services division.
Break and enters are a common crime that Victoria police investigate on a regular basis, but some are more sophisticated with thieves targeting banks, jewelery stores or computer equipment.
The ones in James Bay, however, were recently flagged as a priority by the police strategic operations council, which meets every 28 days to provide an analysis of crime over the previous month, along with emerging trends and patterns that are used to develop three to four priorities for officers to focus their attention.
In the James Bay case, police conducted a further analysis and discovered similar break and enters dating back to February this year. Eventually officers were able to identify a suspect and made an arrest last week. The man was on parole for break and enter, which he had revoked as the investigation continues.
In the meantime, police advise business owners not to leave cash or valuables in their businesses and when possible, show that the cash register is open and empty. Business owners are also encouraged to invest in quality alarm and video surveillance systems.
“Over and over again, we encounter situations where somebody has a video security system, but it’s poor quality or it doesn’t record,” said King, adding citizens are encouraged to report any suspicious activity.
“Citizens are often key in solving these.”
Other priorities recently outlined by the strategic operations council include thefts/drug activity in the 100 block of Tillicum Road and east and west on Craigflower Road, along with Rock Bay Landing, where a lot of overnight shelters are set up and several stolen bikes are often recovered.