Break-ins and thefts from vehicles are on the rise in the townships, according to Waterloo Regional Police.
In a presentation to Wellesley council December 19, superintendent Daryl Goetz said that in the vast majority of cases, the thefts were possible because of unlocked homes and vehicles.
“We’re all very trusting, and we get all lackadaisical when we come home, walk in the house and leave our valuables in the car,” said Goetz.
Criminals were increasingly taking advantage of that situation, he added.
Between January and the end of November, there were 103 break-and-enters reported to the police by rural residents. This was up more than a third from the five-year average of 71 reports over the same period. Break-ins to commercial properties had risen to 67 from a five-year average of 51, while thefts under $5,000 from vehicles are at 157 compared with the average of 128.
Goetz said that often times, rural communities are targeted by criminals from outside the area.
“We’ve noticed that. It’s not a trend that’s specific to our [township and region], it’s across the province. We’re finding the criminal element will roam and they’ll go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It’s a little easier for somebody coming from a metropolis near us to slide into here, we don’t know who they are. And then they sneak back out.
“The way to be vigilant is just to lock up and they’ll move on. … We just all have to work on that together.”
Rural Sgt. Kelly Gibson added the police were trying to get the message out to the community to secure their valuables through the “lock it or lose it campaign.” She also encouraged people to report suspicious activity to the police.
The non-emergency number for the Waterloo Regional Police was recently changed to 519-570-9777.