Sgt. Leanne Butler with Queens RCMP holds a pamphlet being distributed to all residents of Stratford by mail this week. It asks residents to help solve a rash of break and enters in the town over the past year. Included are two photos of the suspect and a list of suspicious activity residents are asked to report with a 911 call.
©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong
Pamphlet says thief likes to unscrew outside lights to make victim's home dark, gets in through open windows
STRATFORD – A man is stealing money from homes in Stafford, Charlottetown and Cornwall over the past year and now the RCMP is ramping up efforts to catch him.
This week every resident of Stratford is getting a glossy-printed pamphlet updating the burglary situation because that community is where the majority of the crimes have been committed.
"It brings attention to what we are investigating," says Sgt. Leanne Butler, officer in charge of operations for Queens district RCMP.
The pamphlet says there were 31 break and enters in Stratford last year, and 15 of them are likely committed by the same suspect.
"RCMP have engaged the assistance of Criminal Intelligence Services of P.E.I. (CISPEI), a multi-agency information and evidence gathering and investigative unit, to assist with the current rash of break and enters," said a statement issued recently by the RCMP.
"Areas where similar break and enters occurred were examined and it was determined that not only Stratford and Charlottetown but also Cornwall had similar breaks reported," it said.
"A joint task force between RCMP and Charlottetown City Police was struck, and the investigations have been ongoing into these matters."
That team has found some common features of this thief's modus operandi and that information is a key part of the pamphlet's information.
The thief often unscrews exterior light bulbs at his target residence to put the area in darkness, it says.
If you notice your outside lights have gone dark and the bulbs seem loose, don't touch the bulb or the fixture and call 911, said Butler.
There are other common features to the crimes.
"He is usually cutting a screen and accessing (a home) through an open window or pulling the screen out," she said.
"Check all your windows," said Butler. "Tonight, go around and see if they are locked.
"He is opportunistic," she said. "The windows (of victim homes) have been left open. He's not breaking the window. He's taking the screen off and pushing on an open window."
He is even boldly taking ladders he finds around a victim's home and using it to get up to second-storey windows. Secure ladders so they are not laying around outside your home, said Butler.
Once inside, this elusive thief has but one goal.
"Usually it is only money that is stolen, cash, so that is another reason we know (the crimes are) consistent," she said.
"We really want everyone to be aware of what is going on," she said. "If someone sees something suspicious or out of place, call police."
Things like an unfamiliar vehicle seen parked a while in a neighbourhood or unfamiliar people on a neighbour's property should be reported to 911, said Butler.