Churches targeted throughout Saskatchewan for break and enters

·3 min read

Regina– Of all the places criminals might target for theft, churches might not be the top of the list. But apparently they are, here in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan RCMP Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction Unit (CP/CR) has for mission to reduce crime in Saskatchewan by targeting known criminals and repeat offenders. To do so, it analyzes the features of crimes committed in Saskatchewan and finds patterns of crime.

The CP/CR has recently confirmed the existence of a new criminal trend in Saskatchewan, according to a Dec. 23 press release. Since the beginning of the year 2020, there is a significant increase in breaking and entering, thefts, mischief and attempted breaking and entering into Saskatchewan churches.

From January 2020 to November 2020, 64 of these incidents have occurred in 55 churches across Saskatchewan, the RCMP said. This represents an increase of 60 percent in break-ins in churches in Saskatchewan since last year.

This new trend affects churches of all denominations. Nothing indicates these crimes are motivated by hate, racism or ideology, they added.

In most of these incidents, the doors of the church have been opened by force at night, after the church was closed and left vacant. Items such as money, electronics, computers, guitars, safes, freezers and refrigerators were stolen.

The majority (43) of this year’s church break-ins occurred in central Saskatchewan. The churches in this area have seen an increase of 173 percent in break-ins since last year.

Monica Deters, the CP/CR crime analyst who compiled and discovered the extent of the break-in increase, is categorical about what this means:

“This increase in church break-ins is concerning enough that it creates a pattern. Even though the break-ins mostly happened in the central district and during the summer, this new criminal trend is noticeable because these break-ins happened all year and across Saskatchewan. It is imperative that we all get involved to better secure these buildings.“

Saskatchewan RCMP is asking Saskatchewanians to help make church buildings more secure. Stay alert, especially at night, and report any suspicious activity around churches to your local RCMP detachment or police service, the RCMP said. The release noted, “If you are a resident, keep an eye on your community’s churches and ensure your religious representatives know about this new increase of break-ins into churches.

“If you are a community representative, find ways to discuss the possibility of repurposing and managing abandoned churches in your community.

“If you are a church caretaker, lock the doors when the church is empty, secure the objects of value of the church in a locked space, note the identifying features and serial numbers of the electronics and household items of the church and install motion-detector lights, alarms and/or security cameras around the church.

“Don’t hesitate to call your local RCMP detachment to talk about the security of your church and to learn how to make it more secure.”

Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury