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Green-thumbed thieves focusing on garden sheds and outdoor tools

Moose Jaw: 68 break-ins between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared to 59 during the same period last year, a jump of 15.3 per cent.
Moose Jaw police have seen “a rash” of break-and-enters to garden sheds.

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM — The Moose Jaw Police Service is encouraging homeowners to lock up their sheds and protect their garden tools as there has been “a rash” of related thefts this year.

Crime data that the agency presented during the April meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners showed there were 68 break-ins — business, home, and other — between Jan. 1 and March 31, compared to 59 incidents during the same period last year, a jump of 15.3 per cent.

A closer look shows that, year-to-date, there have been 18 break-ins to businesses versus 15 last year, 23 break-ins to homes compared to 28 last year and 27 other break-ins versus 16 last year; the latter category increase 68.8 per cent year-over-year.

Most other break-ins have been to storage units, while there has been “a rash” of break-and-enters to garden sheds, senior police leadership told the board. Also, through internal investigations, the police service determined it accidentally recorded incorrect incidents in that category.

“It’s a big percentage increase for a small number of thefts,” a superintendent said. 

Senior leadership agreed that residents should take pictures of expensive items like bicycles and barbecues and record the serial numbers if possible. Furthermore, they should install yard lights to deter thieves and lock up their property.

Besides these measures, the police service said it plans to engage in enhanced social media activities to remind homeowners to protect their valuables better. 

Crimes against the person

Year-to-date data for 2024 and 2023 for crimes against the person show:

  • Homicide: 0 / 0
  • Attempted murder: 1 / 0
  • Assaults (sexual, common, with a weapon/cause bodily harm, aggravated, against police): 85 / 105
  • Robbery: 4 / 2 
  • Total: 113 / 147; a decline of 23.1 per cent

Crimes against property

Year-to-date data for 2024 and 2023 for crimes against property show:

  • Break-ins: 68 / 59
  • Theft of motor vehicles: 14 / 11
  • Theft over $5,000: 5 / 9
  • Theft under $5,000: 157 / 227
  • Arson: 0 / 0
  • Mischief under $5,000 (property damage): 57 / 65
  • Total: 385 / 494; a decline of 22.1 per cent

Police Chief Rick Bourassa said the decline in both categories was good news, although the police service has not yet detected any trends because they take time to develop. He also noted that the MJPS tracks statistics over time, and even though crime seems to have increased lately, it has seen a 25-per-cent decrease in offences compared to 20 years ago.

“What we’re also seeing is a general trend up in calls for service to us … ,” he continued. “Most of what we do isn’t related to crime; it’s related to people struggling to cope in our community and needing our assistance — and we provide that.

“If we don’t do that, we will see the crime data go up again. So we continue to focus on all those other pieces of community well-being as part of our business …  and we deploy our people accordingly,” Bourassa added.

The next police board meeting is Thursday, May 2.