How safe is our neighbourhood? Part One


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Our crime report shows robbery up 45%, break-ins up 14% and other surprises based on year-to-date stats from 53 Division (Lawrence Avenue south to Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue to the Don River.)

Break & enters

Jewel thieves use ladders to enter Forest Hill homes
Someone is targeting high-end homes in Forest Hill, and police are at a loss for who the suspect or suspects may be. 

Police constable Timothy Somers of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) 53 Division said there have been five break and enters near Eglinton Avenue West and Spadina Road since early October — that investigators believe are related.

According to Somers, police have not ruled out one of the most prolific break-and-enter artists in Toronto’s history, Shane Gagnon, who was charged with 31 break-and-enters in 2014 as a result of an investigation dubbed Project Spiderman. Gagnon’s modus operandi was similar to the recent break-ins as he was known to gain entry to each home through the roof to steal expensive jewellery.

“We’re not ruling him out, but we’re not saying it’s him either,” said Somers, who noted Gagnon has been released since he was charged in 2014. “We’re considering everything right now.”

The break and enters occurred on Oct. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17, sometime in the evening. In most cases, the culprit was able to gain entry through a second-floor window to steal watches and jewellery of high value.

On two occasions, a ladder was left out nearby, and it was used to access the second floor. However, on Oct. 17, the culprit was able to enter the home through the main floor. 

A TPS report notes that whoever is responsible isn’t shy. On at least one occasion, the thief or thieves were emboldened to steal from a residence while the owners were inside. 

According to Somers, police are waiting on surveillance footage and hope to release photos of the suspect or suspects shortly. In the meantime, TPS has cautioned the public to lock windows and doors, remove any ladders from plain sight and report all suspicious activity.

There have been 373 break-and-enters throughout Midtown neighbourhoods in 53 Division as of Oct. 16 this year. — Samantha Peksa

Police insight: We don’t know what is driving this current upswing in high-end break and enters because we don’t know who is doing them.… Our opinion in general of why there is an upwards swing in crime is because there is an increase of overall organized crime. — Police Constable Timothy Somers, 53 Division

Auto theft

Midtown cars valued at $850k stolen 
There have been 68 recorded auto thefts across 53 Division to date in 2017. Looking back at this year’s car thefts, there is one massive operation that stands out. Project Seconds, a six-month investigation that began in January 2017, recovered nine vehicles stolen from Midtown and North York neighbourhoods, including BMWs, Audis and Mercedes valuing approximately $850,000. 

On June 7, search warrants were executed at a home and business in Toronto. A 35-year-old male suspect and a 34-year-old female suspect, both of Toronto, were arrested. They were each charged with possession of property obtained by crime, valued at over $5,000. Jewellery, watches and designer handbags valued at $200,000 as well as $70,000 in cash were recovered.The group is also responsible for stealing property with an estimated value of $3.5 million.

Two warrants have also been issued for 38-year-old and 21-year-old male suspects, wanted for a slew of charges connected to the case. They remain at large. 

Det. Sgt. Sean Brosnan, of 32 Division, said the modus operandi of this group was very specific: they would enter through the second floor and steal a high-end vehicle.

“They’re a little more sophisticated. They target high-end homes, and they know they have alarms. Often they work as a team,” said Brosnan.

He said they’ve broken into homes in 53, 13, 32 and 33 Divisions and in Peel Region, with a total of 30 break-ins connected to them to date. 

Brosnan said the 38-year-old was previously arrested in 2013 for a series of robberies, including one at Prada, a high-end designer store on Bloor Street. Among the recent charges, he is wanted for 13 counts of breaking and entering and six counts of theft of a motor vehicle.

The two accused in custody last appeared in court on Sept. 28. — SP

Police insight: Auto theft is down because the technology has gotten much better. The ability to protect cars has improved, with electronic fobs and things like that. — Const. Somers

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