Residential break-ins increases after 2020 lull: police

The concrete ceiling of the expansive parking lot under the Marina Park Place apartment complex is dotted with security cameras.

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The concrete ceiling of the expansive parking lot under the Marina Park Place apartment complex is dotted with security cameras.

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Daylight streamed through the chain link fence of the exterior walls at the edge of the structure Thursday morning.

A shard of the wire mesh that protects a bicycle enclosure in the corner was visible above the newly installed planks above to help deter theft.

The recent safety improvements have been a welcome change for Jim and Diane Lambert, and they are hopeful there will be more to come.

“It has gone downhill since we’ve been here,” said Jim, a 68-year-old retired construction worker who moved with his wife from Point Edward six years ago to the three-building complex off Sandy. Lane.

Four bike enclosure break-ins took place in 2021, he said. The most recent came amid a wave of vehicle break-ins in the doorless parking lot, resulting in the theft of at least one vehicle and a number of thefts of catalytic converters by a suspect, police said. was dressed as a security guard .

In the summer, beachgoers near Cove – half-owned by Marina Park Place owner Drewlo Holdings Inc., and the site of a recent partnership with police to clean up trees and other vegetation that could serve as cover – often cut the fence or entered through unlocked doors leading to the parking lot, Lambert and other residents said.

Some residents feared walking into the garage on their own as a group of several emailed management regarding safety and other construction issues, the Lambert’s said.

A number are now being processed, such as locking the on-board bike before Christmas, property manager Chrissy Bryan said.

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Some fence repairs, however, have been delayed by supply chain issues, she added.

“You can’t do everything,” she said. “Some of the expectations aren’t exactly realistic, but the things we think are going to make the biggest difference that we do.”

The eruption of petty crime in the complex is an example of residential break-ins that rebounded across town in 2021 after a lull in 2020 that may have been linked to the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the said. Sarnia Police. says Giovanni Sottosanti.

There were 319 residential burglaries reported in 2019, 215 in 2020 and 294 in the first 11 months of 2021, he said.

The reported business breaches were 138, 130 and 102, respectively, he added.

“If an area has been heavily targeted… for example we have received a number of complaints from London Line… we will try to focus our attention on that area,” he said.

Police announced in 2020 They were stepping up law enforcement at the cove and this has continued, although the beach is quieter in 2021 and arrests and tickets are down there, Sottosanti said. The officer thanked Drewlo for helping improve sight lines in the area.

“But it’s difficult,” he said of the thefts all over the city. “These people don’t advertise what they’re doing, so if they see us coming or if they know we’re around, they’re going to restrict their activities.”

People should lock their homes and vehicles, monitor each other’s properties when they know neighbors are away, make sure there are good lines of sight around their properties so that criminals do not cannot easily hide and report suspicious activity to the police, he said. “Even when it is of a minor nature”.

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This is something the Lambert’s have said they and other Marina Park Place residents have encouraged their neighbors to do as well.

Some have not reported bicycle thefts in the past due to concerns about insurance deductibles, Lambert said.

The city government also weighed how to help solve the problem that the Council. Bill Dennis recently called a “tsunami” of brazen – and sometimes in the light of day – break-ins that widely are the most common problem he hears from citizens.

“Some people have indicated that they are so fed up that they don’t even report petty crimes to the police,” he said, suggesting that current burglary statistics don’t tell the whole story.

On Nov. 22 and Dec. 13, Dennis pleaded for provincial reform to address what he called “catch-and-release” justice that quickly puts frequent repeat offenders back on the streets and ties up police.

Com. Brian White said officers generally understand the problem is not one that can be solved by arrests alone, and spoke of the importance of providing personalized and one-on-one support, including income, to people for tackle the root causes of delinquency.

Com. Nathan Colquhoun spoke about the value of neighborhood watches that watch over each other, build relationships with the community, and make the police of break-ins and side thefts.

Mayor Mike Bradley noted that the city’s recent budget includes money to hire four additional officers, in part to help address the problem collectively recognized by the council is complex and, in part, stemmed from addiction issues, homelessness and mental health.

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In November, the Council unanimously requested a staff report, still to come, describing the actions already underway in the city to fight against petty crime, as well as the possibilities for further action.

The motion also called for the Sarnia Police to be involved in the discussion and the County of Lambton, which is responsible for social programs such as housing.

“This is a huge question, and part of it is up to us to sort it out,” White said, noting later that provincial governments on all sides have always focused on keeping taxes low rather than on them. fundamental problems which contribute to petty crime.

“I want them to think about this and I want them to start talking about it about some of the public debate ahead of the spring elections,” he said.

In December, the council voted 8-1 – Colquhoun opposed – calling for a meaningful provincial change to the justice system and for Dennis to bring forward proposals to the Sarnia Police Services Board and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

A recidivism report on the matter is being prepared and could be submitted to the Sarnia Police Commission for review later this month, a police spokesperson said.

In the meantime, having easy access to the Marina Park Place parking lot is an issue that would-be thieves can exploit, Sottosanti said.

“When things are easier to penetrate, they take advantage,” he said, “and that’s what happens in this case.”

Creating more barriers to entry doesn’t appear to be at the top of the list of security improvements, according to Bryan, who said she manages six buildings for the company, some with garage doors and others without. .

“If anyone wants to come in, he comes in,” she said. “The doors don’t matter.”

Building management want tenants to be comfortable, she said.

“But I’m telling you I’ve had buildings with garage doors that are completely sealed. If anyone wants to get in, there it is. … It’s a little out of our hands.

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