Residential break-and-enters spiked in the City of Langley last year, but that doesn’t mean there are a whole bunch of people out there breaking into homes.
Rather, it would seem there is a small number of crooks who are racking up big numbers, Langley RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke explained, as he shared the community’s fourth quarter crime stats with Langley City council earlier this month.
The City was “hit particularly hard with residential B&Es in 2012,” Cooke said, explaining that the number of break-ins was up a full third — 33 per cent — over the previous year.
Police believe one group of youths is responsible for at least 41 B&Es, stealing easily portable items such as laptop computers and bottles of alcohol.
To describe just how prolific one thief can be, Cooke shared an anecdote about an officer who was standing talking to one member of the suspect group when a piece of stolen property fell out of the boy’s coat. He was arrested, processed and released to his parents.
Thirty minutes later, he had already committed another crime, Cooke said. The youth wasn’t caught in the act the second time, but left fingerprints at the scene.
In another case, a suspect committed nine armed robberies in a span of five days, Cooke said. Another, a woman who was arrested stealing from offices at Langley Memorial Hospital, already had 174 convictions, said Cooke. That, he said, is the most he’s ever come across for one person, adding it is particularly unusual for a woman.
“It doesn’t take many people to have a significant impact on our crime rate.”
Asked by Councillor Ted Schaffer about incidents of gas and wire theft in the City, Cooke said there has been a decrease in the latter over the last six months.
At one point, when one particular person was incarcerated, wire theft dropped to zero, he said.
Police have been working with Telus to identify areas likely to be targeted and alarms have been installed on certain lines — bait wires, if you will, said Cooke.
Gasoline theft, meanwhile, has been a huge issue in Langley, Cooke said, costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Thieves typically use trucks or vans equipped with large tanks to haul away large quantities of stolen gas.
Thefts are down slightly from their peak but remain “an every night occurrence,” because gasoline is easy to sell, council heard.
“People are lined up to buy the product.”