Break-and-enters jump 30% in Fredericton last year, police say

There has been a 30 per cent increase in break-and-enter charges in Fredericton between 2018 and 2019, according to police.

The new numbers come from a year in review by the Fredericton Police Force, which was delivered at a city council meeting earlier this week.  

"I didn't find the numbers, to be frank, overly startling," said Fredericton Police Chief Roger Brown "I think the numbers tell us there are certainly areas of concern in the city that we need to focus the organization on."

Cases involving cocaine possession charges have increased by 78 per cent between 2018 and 2019, while cases involving crystal meth possession charges have jumped 33 per cent. 

Spike in shed, garage break-ins 

Meanwhile, break-and-enters involving outbuildings, sheds and garages, have increased by 28 per cent.

Last year, there were 107 of these buildings that were broken into. That number is up from 56 break-ins in 2018. 

And some of those break-ins were committed by repeat offenders. 

Brown said thefts are an easy way for someone addicted to drugs to support their habit.

"A lot of this is people trying to zero in on thefts that are relatively easy, to be able to turn [what they take] into cash relatively easy to support a drug habit," he said. 

"That's one of the things that are driving these numbers, without a doubt."

In 2019, Fredericton police set up a full-time drug team to deal with the problem. 

"We're spending a considerable amount of time building up those files to try to get to the crux of this issue."

Fredericton still a 'very safe city'

Since 2018, the number of phone calls to police concerning issues related to mental health have more than doubled.

Last year the force received more than 400 calls from people in distress over a mental illness — that's up from 150 calls in 2018.

Common assaults have also increased by 19 per cent. They can include anything from bar fights to domestic abuse. 

Brown said the increasing mental health calls, commons assaults, drug addiction and thefts are interconnected. 

"When you see people that are struggling with mental health issues, it's not rare, in fact it's common to see that turn into assaults or aggression."

And people battling with mental illness might also turn to drugs as a means to cope. 

Brown maintains Fredericton is no different — or less safe — from any other city across the country.

"We're seeing the same issue in any city across Canada, with respect to crystal meth, and we all have to have a concerted effort toward zeroing in on the traffickers." 

Still, residents should take precautions. On surveillance videos, Brown said police often see thieves checking to see if a door is unlocked before entering.

"If a door's unlocked, they're going to look in," he said. "The easiest way to start dealing with that is to lock our doors."