Recently, at around 3 a.m. ,Christina — a north Forest Hill resident who preferred not to have her full name disclosed — and her family were asleep when someone crawled through the basement window and set off a motion detector.
“As soon as I heard something, I started to yell downstairs,” she said. “He was out the door in under 20 seconds.”
Christina is just one of an increasing number of local residents who have recently become break and enter victims.
In fact,a spike in break and enters across neighbourhoods such as Forest Hill, Leaside, Lawrence Park and Yorkville has locals on guard and police scrambling.
The surge started last October, when more than double the usual amount of break and enters were reported, said local constable Timothy Somers. Presently, break and enters continue at about twice the normal rate, the highest in years. They are happening at apartments, stores and houses.
As part of the surge, there has been an increase in second-floor balcony break and enters in areas such as Lawrence Park. The occurrence has led the public to believe there may be a “Spider-Man bandit” on the loose.
“I think it’s a bit unsettling,” said Coun. Jaye Robinson, who lives in the area and said, generally, the neighbourhood is a safe place.
Local staff sergeant Peter Henry said police have secured additional money and officers to address the break-in issue and have increased community presence both through patrolling and education.
Most recently, six suspects have been charged in relation to the recent break and enters.
Somers said the increase happened partly because several serial offenders had finished prison terms and were back to their old ways. As a result of the arrests, he said break and enter occurrences in residences are again on the decline.
However, he said that doesn’t mean residents should become complacent.
For Christina, though only a laptop was stolen, the experience was enough for her to step up her safety. “My husband thinks I’m nuts, but my children don’t even sleep with their windows open at night now,” she said.
Police are requesting residents take extra precautions, such as leaving lights on at night and locking doors.