Thieving crime ring allegedly targeting Westmount homes
An increase in break-ins in Westmount has left residents concerned for their safety and worried about their homes.
“I’m pretty nervous right now, I have to be honest,” said one Murray Hill Avenue resident.
There have been at least 15 break-ins in Westmount since November; officials say there are usually two or three a month.
Police say the robberies often happen in the afternoon to early evening and the alleged thieves normally target empty homes – although once, someone was inside.
The thieves frequently enter through unlocked windows on the second floor to avoid setting off the alarms; they work quickly — usually five or six minutes.
They target easily transportable items like cash, jewelry and laptops.
“It’s a terrifying thing, to think of being broken into in your home,” said Westmount mayor Christina Smith.
She said public security is working diligently on the file.
“This is unnerving to know of a neighbour who was broken into. I ensure residents the police and public security are working very closely on this to put an end to this,” Smith says.
“We have a lot of eyes on the street, but if you do see something, I urge residents to call police because that might be what will catch them.”
Smith said Westmount public security has increased its patrols and officers have dropped warnings in dozens of houses that are dark or look vulnerable to thieves.
They have also launched an online public safety campaign.
“I know a lot of people here in Westmount leave their front door open,” said Westmount public safety assistant director Kimberley Colquhoun.
“Just take that extra precaution, make sure your doors and windows are locked and that will save you a possible break-in.”
Montreal police said they’ve arrested four people in connection to the break-ins; they caution more arrests are likely.
They explained within the group, it’s possible some members aren’t from Canada and that they may be working with local street gangs.
Police said the group is likely related to increased thefts in Hampstead and the Town of Mount Royal (TMR).
“It’s not a great feeling, that is for sure,” said Westmount Avenue resident Jodie Tessler.
She said she and her neighbours are hiring private security to monitor their homes during the holidays.
“There is a definite feeling of uneasiness, especially when you hear they are willing to enter the home where people are present,” she said.
The City of Westmount is encouraging residents to let public security know if they are leaving for the holidays and officers will check-in on their houses up to three times a day.
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