With more than 150 home break-ins in rural Alberta this past fall, the RCMP is asking for public help in both providing information and safeguarding homes.
The RCMP headquarters is now leading a co-ordinated effort with rural RCMP detachments across northern Alberta and even parts of Saskatchewan to solve a rash of early morning break-ins that have lead to small-scale thefts.
Beginning in August, there was a host of the break-ins, first starting in the Camrose-Forestburg area then heading in to the Fox Creek community.
The break-ins also took place in Evansburg, Swan Hills, Entwistle, Onoway, Delburne, Bashaw and Morinville, which suffered four break-ins in late October.
The crime spree also jumped the border into Lashburn, Maidstone and Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. The last reported theft was in early December in Castor, Alta.
Cpl. Wayne Oakes said the break-ins have similarities that make investigators believe one group is responsible for all of them.
Oakes said all of the break-ins have occurred in the early morning hours and the thieves have generally walked right in to unlocked rural homes and collected easily accessible valuables.
They have generally taken purses, wallets, iPods, cameras, cigarettes and liquor. The thieves so far have been able to avoid contact with homeowners, who are typically asleep.
Oakes said the potential exists for a very dangerous altercation if these culprits encounter a homeowner before they are found and stopped.
“Anytime that you have that type of altercation there is a potential for someone to get seriously hurt.”
The RCMP is also encouraging people to lock their doors and windows to make it more difficult for thieves and to keep valuables out of sight to make their home a less attractive target.
They are also encouraging residents to consider joining a rural crime watch and to report suspicious people in the neighbourhood who may be lurking near homes.
Although the RCMP’s focus this time out is on these rural communities, everyone should be following these suggestions, Oakes said.
“These tips are good tips to be utilized regardless of where you live.”
Anyone with any information on the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.