'I felt violated': More Kitchener-Waterloo residents reporting overnight car break-ins
More Kitchener-Waterloo residents are coming forward with surveillance footage of a man attempting to break into their cars in recent weeks.
"I felt violated, like this is my stuff, my vehicle," said Rena Schmidt, who lives on Balfour Crescent.
Schmidt says she returned home from vacation on July 4 to find her locked car had been broken into. Her neighbour's surveillance camera caught a suspect in the act around 3:30 a.m.
"He had gone through everything, even went through the booklet with the owner's manual of the car," she said.
Since then, Schmidt says she's felt uneasy with the suspect, who she believes is behind most of the area's thefts from cars, still out there.
"I'm a little more leery when I come out to my vehicle at night or if I'm putting my garbage just because you never know who can be where on your personal property," she said.
A similar-looking suspect was caught on camera at Julie Vala's Heritage Park home in the early morning hours of July 30.
"He was not afraid at all of those coming on and being seen by any passerby," she said. "It's scary, it really is. I don't think anybody is safe."
Vala said it wasn't the first time the suspect attempted to break into her vehicle.
Multiple residents in the Stanley Park and Chicopee areas also said they have captured an influx of car break-ins on camera.
Waterloo regional police say there are more reports of thefts from cars this year than last.
In 2020, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 24, police logged 2,299 reports.
In the same time period this year, that number climbed to 2,587.
"There's been a sharper increase in calls this summer as opposed to last summer," said Jon Kuiper, chief executive of Excellence Security. "Mainly alerting you when someone's there through analytics as well as having good visual clear proof to give the law enforcement."
Some residents say a camera is needed to report the suspect to police.
"Definitely to make sure that it doesn't happen again and also to feel safer to have eyes on whoever is doing this," said Dalewood Drive resident Isabel Lomoth.
PREVENTING THEFT FROM VEHICLES
Police are reminding drivers that valuables, like phones and cash, shouldn't be stored in vehicles or should be hidden. People should also park their vehicles in well-lit and secure areas whenever possible.
As for preventing theft of the vehicle itself, police warn against leaving a vehicle running and unlocked.
Anyone who has been victim of a theft from their vehicle under $5,000 can file an online report to police. The online form can also be used for vehicle damage under $5,000 not caused by a collision and theft of licence plates.
Anyone who observes suspicious behaviour, should call police immediately.
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