London police warn of summer uptick in vehicle break-ins as data suggests abnormal spike in Springbank lots

While some Londoners head out to local parks and pathways to take in the great outdoors, city police say others are out scoping their vehicles for valuables.

London police say they expect an uptick in the number of thefts from vehicles across city heading further into the summer months.

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Police figures show that across the city, 406 incidents were reported in May, and 380 in June. Police say they expect those numbers to rise, noting that in 2018, vehicle thefts rose from 298 in June to 423 in August.

“We appreciate that sometimes you have no choice but to secure valuables inside your vehicle and if that is the case, ensure that they are out of view,” said Det. Sgt. Ryan Scrivens.

“Be careful not to secure these items once you have already arrived at your destination, as many thieves lie in wait and watch as you place your purse, laptop or other valuables under the seat, or in the trunk of your vehicle. Ensure you secure these items out of sight prior to your arrival.”

But residents of one neighbourhood in particular are expressing concern over an alarming spike in vehicle break-ins this year. Police data also shows an abnormal surge in vehicle break-ins specific to lots in and around Springbank Park.

In 2019, 47 vehicle break-ins were reported at those lots in the first six months of the year, with 20 of those reported in the month of June alone. By comparison, in all of 2018, only 16 incidents were reported in the same area.

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The numbers for 2019 are not just a departure from data in 2018, but from the years before, as well. In 2017, a total of 31 vehicle break-ins were reported in the Springbank lots; in 2016, a total of 15 were reported for the entire year.

Londoner Tara Piper is among the unlucky dozens who have had their vehicles broken into at Springbank Park this year. Last week, she and her two kids, aged five and 12, went to Springbank for an early afternoon of fun at the park and the wading pool, parking in the public lot across from the washrooms.

“Obviously I locked my vehicle,” Piper told 980 CFPL on Wednesday about the July 4 incident. “I did have $3 in change in my car, not thinking that was a problem.”

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Picking a spot beneath a tree, Piper says about 20 minutes had passed before an elderly couple, there with their grandchildren, apologized for sitting so close to them, saying they needed to keep an eye on their vehicle up the road.

“They said there were three vehicles up on the street that had been broken into, I guess, within the last 20 minutes,” Piper said. “I was like ‘oh my gosh, I have a minivan.’ And I know that they’re targets.”

After packing up, Piper says they arrived back at the minivan only to find that it, too, had been broken into. One of the windows had been completely smashed out.

“The parks and recreation guys did come and help clean up all the glass,” Piper said.

Piper contacted police and spoke with a number of people at the park to see if anyone had seen something or someone. Aside from a suspicious looking person on a bike, someone Piper says she and someone else had observed prior to the incident, no leads turned up.

At least seven other vehicles in the area were also broken into, Piper said, adding two women she spoke with said they would have to replace their entire door.

Piper says the broken window left her family with a $360 repair bill, one that could have been much higher.

“ not on a track, it would have cost more. I would have probably had to use my insurance deductible,” she said.

Following the incident, Piper says they no longer leave any items in the vehicle.

“It totally makes me reluctant to go out now. I’ve even had an eerie feeling driving my own vehicle, even though its fixed… Knowing somebody was in there… It’s just a huge invasion of your privacy.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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