Man arrested after break-ins at West Vancouver vacant homes

One man is facing charges after police recovered several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of goods stolen from vacant West Vancouver homes in recent months.

West Vancouver police had been investigating break-and-enters in the British Properties including one on Feb. 23 on the 1000 block of Eyremount Drive and another on March 26 on the 1000 block of King George Way.

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When they executed a search warrant for a storage locker in North Vancouver, they found a cache of furniture, art, appliances that hadn’t been installed yet, and luxury personal items.

“There are large amounts of clothing, shoes, and personal accessories like high-value designer handbags,” said Const. Jeff Palmer, West Vancouver police spokesman. “Anything that may have some kind of value at some point.”

Police arrested Ali Reza Serri, 39, of no fixed address, on March 30. He appeared in court the next day to face one count of possession of stolen property but police will be asking Crown to lay more charges when he returns for his next appearance on April 19.

“There’s a lot of property involved. That’s one of the reasons the investigations are all still very active.

“Obviously one of the focuses for the investigators is to determine who else may have been involved and who else could be potentially be held criminally accountable,” he said.

There isn’t an exact total value for all the ill-gotten gains, but one victim alone reported $800,000 in losses, Palmer said.

The rightful owners were able to come claim stolen property from West Vancouver police on Tuesday morning. Had police not discovered the storage locker, it’s likely the goods would have been fenced cheaply down the road through second-hand websites or flea markets, Palmer said.

“Unfortunately, people who are looking for bargains may not be as inquisitive as to the source of the great bargain,” he said.

Break-and-enters have been on the rise in West Vancouver over the last two years, with 37 so far in 2017, compared to 15 year-to-date in 2015, and thieves are increasingly targeted luxury homes where the residents are rarely, if ever, home, Palmer said.

“It definitely highlights the need of anyone who is thinking of being away for an extended period to harden their residential target,” he said, suggesting the installation of a security system and having someone check in on your home while you’re away. “Know your neighbours so your neighbours know you and so your neighbours know what would be, in any way, unusual on your property.”

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