By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News
The stories from victims of break-ins all sounded the same, the subtle difference being the crimes happened on different streets.
On Thursday (Jan. 26), about 40 people, among them London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong, attended a public participation meeting at the East London Library to discuss the recent string of car and home break-ins in the Argyle area over the last few months.
“I’ve been on Burnside Drive for 13 years and recently we’ve had my passenger door bashed out on my van—that was the third week of November. The third week of December, just before Christmas they came back and did the exact same door on the same van, the same way,” said one woman, adding about 26 other cars on her street were broken into over that time period.
In most cases, the people committing the crimes took only spare change, sometimes nothing and only vandalizing the vehicle. Another woman said her neighbour leaves his car unlocked overnight, so the suspects will just go into the vehicle without smashing the window.
Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong directed the meeting with help from Ward 3 Councillor Joe Swan, interim executive director of the Neighbourhood Watch London Chris Olech and officers from the London Police Services, all on hand to give solutions on combating the crime problem.
Break-in crimes are a crime of opportunity, said Const. Paul Ferreira, and people should be taking all items out of their car, lock the doors and get a light to shine on your vehicle.
A key point, Ferreira added, is reporting all crimes to police even if something hasn’t been stolen and report anything suspicious on the street, no matter how small or insignificant.
“We need to work together to make this proactive,” he said. “Basically, we work as reactive. If we can analyze where these problems are shifting to, we can shift those resources to those areas.”
London’s Neighbourhood Watch has 440 Forest City areas signed up to the program and on Thursday Olech made his pitch to the Argyle residences as to why they should sign up to the program.
“We like to think that our system has been tried, tested and true,” Olech said, adding 80 per cent of London break-ins in happen outside of Neighbourhood Watch.
Armstrong said, along with Swan, he’ll be moving forward with some initiatives to help reduce the number of break-ins. Things like cameras in the area, increase police presence, Neighbourhood Watch and working with the Argyle BIA are all things currently being looked at, he added.
“Oh we’re going to get things done,” Armstrong said. “You’re going to see some interesting things in the next little while targeted at different problems to do with the overall picture of crime.”
To report a break-in, call police at 519-661-5670 or go to www.police.london.ca and follow the online reporting link. Online reporting can only be done if there is no suspect information.