'Meth use is a common factor' accounting for rise in Edmonton break-ins

A combination of the city’s growing population, better reporting tools and meth addiction is to blame for the steady rise in break-ins in some Edmonton communities, says a city police detective.

A home or garage break-in happens every two hours, mostly in communities located near downtown, Det. Dan van den Berg, with the Edmonton Police Service, told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Tuesday.

Between 2014 and 2018, there have been 38 per cent more residential break-ins and a whopping 73-per-cent increase in garage break-ins, he said.

“Number one [reason] is going to be the population increase. Edmonton has seen approximately 100,000 people added to its population between 2014 and 2019,” he said. 

In mid-2016, Edmonton police introduced the ability to report garage break-and-enters online, leading to an increase in the number of reported incidents, he said.

“For the rest, it’s going to be a lot of complex factors. I think anecdotally, I would suggest that addictions may be on the rise, maybe meth use,” he said.

“When we’re dealing with prolific offenders who constantly reoffend in these kinds of crimes, meth use is a common factor.”

Of the 10 neighbourhoods most affected by break-and-enters between Sept. 9 and 14, six are near Edmonton’s downtown core: Westmount, Oliver, downtown, Boyle Street, Queen Mary Park as well as Alberta Alberta, located northeast of downtown. (

Between Sept. 9 and 15, there were 124 B&Es reported, with most of them happening in communities that are close to the city’s core. The top five communities targeted were Oliver, Alberta Avenue, Westmount, Bonnie Doon and downtown, he said. 

But, he said, while property crime is the most likely way an individual will experience crime — “most people’s common experience of crime isn’t the shootings” — the likelihood of someone being arrested in only about 10 per cent.

The likelihood of getting your property back, he added, is almost none.

Unlocked doors, especially vehicles and garages, are the biggest problem, van den Berg said.

“Maybe they just had to quickly go out to use the bathroom or answer the phone or something, and in that time somebody crossed the threshold of their garage, scooped that bicycle and off they went.”

Van den Berg said to call 911 only if you come upon a break-in in progress and urges against confronting the culprit.

If you are making a report after the fact, you can call the non-emergency police number (780-423-4567) or to report it online.

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