Arrest in car thefts, break-ins

Montreal police have made an arrest in the case of thefts and break-ins in the Darlington/Wilderton area. “We already arrested someone and we’re very happy about it,” said Agent Catudal of Station 26 in Côte des Neiges, but refused to offer any other information about it.

Residents have been on edge, with politicians confirming their neighborhood was targeted, after Station 26 police called it “a few break-ins.” Whichever way you spin it, the community was on high alert as car thefts and break-ins are ramping up in the Darlington/Wilderton area.

“We’ve had a spate of crime in our area with many cars stolen and houses broken into,” Samuel Roseberg told borough council this month. “I have a relative whose house was broken into in the middle of the night, they were home, they went into the bedroom very quietly… We had 12 vehicles stolen in the last three weeks, and three homes were broken into in one week… That creates a lot of anxiety, as you can imagine, in the community and neighborhood.”

Indeed, Roseberg says the theft of vehicles is pretty rampant. “We have guests and visitors coming from the US and we’ve seen a post from New York and New Jersey warning people that if they’re going to visit Montreal to be careful if they have U.S. plates because their cars are going to get stolen,” particularly he said if it’s a minivan.

Roseberg asked CDN-NDG council what can be done to improve the situation, as “there’s a feeling that police are aware of these thefts, that law enforcement is aware of it, but there’s not much they can do about it.” As the Jewish High Holiday period nears this week, certain Montreal neighbourhoods will see influxes of visitors, along with additional vehicles and this is stoking anxiety.

“We know this area is being targeted,” Darlington councillor Stephanie Valenzuela told council, adding, “whoever is committing these crimes are aware that high holidays are coming up as well.” She and Borough Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa acknowledged that it is an issue but added other city sectors are experiencing a spike in these crimes as well. “It’s going to fall on the SPVM,” said Valenzuela, “I can only imagine how anxious and stressed everyone might be.” Katahwa said “the SPVM is aware of that but they’re not always letting us know how exactly they’re working on stopping this.”

A message from Station 26 commander Mathieu Durand was sent to some residents via the Jewish Community Council. “A few cases of break-ins in residences have recently been reported in your neighborhood,” he wrote. “An investigation is underway to arrest the person(s) responsible for these events. We have also reinforced the police presence in the area to reassure residents.”

The Suburban attempted to reach Durand at Station 26, and in an odd exchange, an officer at the station explained how nobody can “speak to Premier Legault or Valerie Plante” without going to the “bottom of the pyramid”. Nor would Station 26 confirm if there were more people involved, nor how many thefts or break-were reported. When asked for any details, the officer on duty sarcastically asking The Suburban, “would you like if someone just called and asked about you?”

An Ekers street resident told The Suburban she wasn’t as concerned as some of her neighbours, noting there has “not been one suggestion of violence or even a confrontation, but I agree if you hear people are breaking into homes God-forbid while you’re sleeping, then maybe it’s time for bigger action.” She said her son-in law and others are routinely walking around the neighbourhood, “offering more sets of eyes and showing these clowns we are watching.”

Some residents told The Suburban that they were stunned to find that trackers had been placed on their vehicles overnight, a common practice in greater Montreal over the last two years, where would-be thieves place small sensors on parked vehicles and then follow them perhaps the next day to steal them from a more convenient location. Many homeowners in the area said they bought video doorbells to install on their front and garage doors, along with motion sensor lights.

Valenzuela promised that there will be action but warned against residents acting on their own.

“It’s important we stay vigilant and we protect each other in any way we can, but we want to avoid any kind of vigilante watch in these areas. If there’s something that needs to be brought to the SPVM or to security, that’s the best thing we should do.”

Indeed, the officer at Station 26 shared some advice with The Suburban: “If you see a crime, you should call 911.”

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