The Victoria Police Department has arrested a man in connection with a series of break-and-enters into downtown businesses as an investigation continues.
VicPD Strike Force officers made the arrest on Thursday, January 29, amid a two-week-long investigation launched in response to the dramatic rise in business break-ins.
Police say that thieves have been “breaking windows and targeting valuables” inside businesses after hours.
Business break-ins have been trending upward so far in January 2021, with police noting that “dozens” of locations have been victimized already this year.
‘”In the first 20 days of 2020 we had 27 break and enters, and now we are up to 34, so it’s certainly a fair amount,” said VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko.
The upward break-and-enter trend in Victoria extends beyond the first month of this year as well.
According to a police report published on Thursday, 2020 was the second-highest year for reports of break and enters into downtown Victoria businesses in an 11-year period, dating back to 2010.
Thursday’s arrest marks the first suspect nabbed by VicPD in connection with the series of recent break-and-enters.
VicPD says its Analysis and Intelligence Section (AIS) worked with Strike Force and other officers to identify this suspect, whom officers believe to be responsible for some of the break and enters.
The arrested suspect, Brandon Paul, is a 36-year-old man from Victoria and he faces six charges of break-and-enter and one charge of mischief, according to police.
Paul was also wanted on outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest. He was held in custody pending a hearing.
Victoria Police note that Paul is considered innocent until proven guilty.
Although one suspect has been arrested, police are continuing to investigate the series of break-ins, as businesses continue to be targeted.
“Additional suspects are believed to be responsible for other break and enters occurring in both Victoria and Esquimalt,” reads a statement from Victoria Police.
Strike Force officers say they will be working with AIS in order to continue investigating the remaining unsolved business break-and-enters.
One of these unsolved break-ins include an incident that occurred just before 11 p.m. on Thursday at the Nail Sense salon in the 100-block of Wilson Street in Vic West.
The owner says someone broke the glass on the front door, opened the lock and stole the cash box. The business is in the Westside Village Shopping Centre.
Police later found it across the street near the public washrooms, mostly empty.
“They took all the bills and loonies and toonies… I’m so shocked, especially the time… 10:30 p.m.?”
It’s the second time this type of break-in has happened this week, add police.
Officers continue to urge businesses to empty their cash trays at the day’s end and display empty cash trays in sight of windows and doors to dissuade thieves.
Victoria city council has passed a motion to create a fund with the Downtown Victoria Business Association to help businesses with things like damages, but the request by police for more money was voted down.
“We have to admit when crimes are happening you need police, and that is the piece that’s missing,” said DVBA CEO Jeff Bray.
“I’ve heard back from businesses that are so frustrated that they are saying that when my lease comes up and I’ve been here for 25 years I have to seriously look at if I want to stay here.”
Victoria police say they are having to now divert resources.
“Our strike force officers, they were recently involved in that 30 million dollar fentanyl trafficking bust,” said Osoko.
“They are focusing on using their tools and techniques to identify these serial ongoing prolific property offenders that does take away from other types of important investigations they are doing.”