Burnaby RCMP warn of break-in tactics
Burnaby RCMP are seeking a break-and-enter suspect and warning of tactics typically used by thieves to get into apartment buildings.
Burnaby has seen a real increase in break-ins to apartment buildings in the last month, particularly to common areas and laundry rooms, said Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Andy LeClair at a recent press conference.
Suspects are getting into buildings mostly by non-violent, simple means. For instance, they'll pretend to be talking on a cellphone then walk up behind someone as they're entering the building, a tactic of "polite distraction," said LeClair, who heads the detachment's break-and-enter task force.
"The person entering the building doesn't want to be impolite or distract this individual [on the phone] who's obviously busy and they'll hold the door open for them in some cases," he said. "Don't fall for it."
LeClair showed daytime video surveillance footage taken in late February at a Metrotown-area apartment building of a suspect "who just looks like a normal guy."
In it, the man is seen trying to get buzzed into the building via the intercom. When that doesn't work, he pulls out a cellphone and pretends to be on a call. No one approaches to open the door, so he gets impatient and pulls a large screwdriver out of his pocket and breaks the glass in the door, eventually unlocking it.
This is a tactic often used by thieves who then break into individual suites inside, LeClair said. In this case, the suspect went to the building's laundry room, damaging the machines while breaking into them and stealing the change inside.
The suspect is believed to be responsible for several such break-ins. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call Burnaby RCMP's break-and-enter task force at 604-294-7618.
"What we need the public to do is be the guardian of that front door. Do not let people into your building if they don't live there, regardless of how innocent they look. The innocent ones are the ones that are doing us the most damage."
LeClair stressed that people should not be confrontational but that strangers should not be allowed inside a building unless they're buzzed in by a resident first. If the person becomes aggressive, step back inside and call 911. Police should also be called whenever people notice anything suspicious.
As for residential break-and-enters, he said Burnaby RCMP saw a "doubling" of such incidents in December and January, prompting the creation of the break-and-enter task force and the recent arrests of several prolific offenders.
February has seen a "significant decrease" in break-and-enters but they're still higher than police would like, he said.