A Guelph Police Services pilot project targeting auto theft and break and enters will become a permanent fixture in January following two successful trial runs since 2019.
The Break and Enter Auto Theft, also known as B.E.A.T, was first launched as a four-month pilot project in 2019 before being shut down.
Nearly a year after it ended, the pilot project was resurrected in April of 2021 and ran until early June before once again coming to an end.
The full-time unit will consist of one sergeant and four constables who will be dedicated to investigating and solving property crimes, many of which Guelph Police Services say are committed by individuals responsible for numerous crimes.
“It was a pilot project in 2019 and again and 2021 and both times it really did result in quite a lot of crimes getting solved and a number of arrests and so on,” said Scott Tracey, media relations coordinator with the Guelph Police Service. “So, both times we have done it as a pilot project it has demonstrated that it would be beneficial full-time as we’d just be able to move a few officers around and as of January that will be a full-time unit focusing on property crime.”
The five members involved with the B.E.A.T team come from units including the general investigations special projects unit, giving them familiarity with investigative techniques different from general patrol.
“Typically with property crimes we find that it’s the same people involved in a number of these, and a number of vehicle thefts, break and enters and so on, so we would look at trends and gather surveillance video and hopefully identify individuals who are responsible for a number of crimes and get them solved that way,” said Tracey.
The program will reduce the stress load of front-line officers while allowing the B.E.A.T team to focus their priorities and resources on the property crimes and getting them solved.
“The benefit of this team is, frankly front-line officers respond to the call initially, but as you can appreciate they are busy with other calls and have other things they need to move on and do, whereas this unit can just focus on dedicating more resources to property crimes and getting them solved,” said Tracey.
Data provided from the GPS shows the pilot projected resulted in 270 charges, with 63 arrested/charged parties.
Nine search warrants were executed during the pilot period and six charges were laid in relation to motor vehicle theft.
When it comes to the crimes broken down by year, in 2019 Guelph saw 606 break and enters, 550 in 2020 and approximately 480 fo far in 2021.
Stolen vehicles, however, are slightly down with 191 reported in 2019, 174 in 2020 and 155 in 2021 to date.
According to Tracey, the numbers for 2021 are presented as approximations at this point as some of them could change once those reports are finalized, such as a call entered as a break and enter could be reclassified as an insecure premise if a door blew open in a storm rather than as a result of a criminal act.