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Iqaluit residents build fortresses against thieves

Targets of break-ins create fortresses to make it harder for robbers.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

DWANE WILKIN

Police say a tip through Crimestoppers has helped them solve at least fifteen break-ins since January.

Seven suspects, including three minors, face charges in connection with the robberies, which targetted businesses and private homes alike.

“As it stands today, we’ve cleared 15 files, and the investigation is still going,” said Const. Mitch Monette of the Iqaluit RCMP.

Two suspects known to police appeared in court this week to face a total of 21 charges. Court appearances for the other suspects have been postponed until a later date.

Monette said the vast majority of charges are for break-and-enter and theft, but police have also laid charges of attempted forgery related to a number of stolen cheques.

The arrests began last Friday following weeks of investigation.

“We got lots of assistance from Crimestoppers and people in the community giving us anonymous tips,” Monette said.

“We got lucky on one individual who basically confessed, and that’s where the ball started rolling.”

The arrests have led to the recovery of stereos, television sets and four walrus tusks taken from private homes. But loose cash and liquor were the thieves’ preferred target.

“Basically that stuff’s gone the day it happens,” Monette said, adding that police are now tallying victims’ losses.

At one business, Tower Arctic, thieves caused an estimated $6,000 in damages to the premises during the break-and-enter.

In addition to Tower Arctic, this most recent rash of break-and-enters affected Canadrill, R.L Hanson Construction Ltd. and even the Upassuraakut drug and alcohol counselling building.

Bob Hanson, whose business on Airport Road has been targetted by thieves four times since January, was relieved to learn that arrests had finally been made. Still, he feels he had no choice but to invest in an elaborate and expensive security system.

“It’s like being in jail now,” said Hanson from his office. “I have bars on my windows. I have to sit here and look out through bars.

“For a community-person like I am it really bothers me that I have to go to this extreme to protect my premises.”

Further charges in connection with the investigation into the break-ins may be laid, police said.

Monette said police don’t believe the break-ins are the activity of a “ring” of organized thieves planning the crimes ahead of time. Instead, investigators consider the robberies to be “crimes of opportunity.”

Elijah Jonah and Jamesie Kopalie, both in their early 20s, appeared in court in Iqaluit Monday morning to face multiple charges of break-and-enter.

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