Pubdate: Mon, 05 Jun 2017
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly
Page: A1


Guns, yes - but knives, pepper spray, hammers, bats, batons and pipes
have all been wielded as invaders strike in Hamilton

The number of violent home invasions in Hamilton nearly doubled last
year, highlighting a growth in what police say is crime fuelled by the
illegal drug trade in the city.

Last year Hamilton police investigated 67 violent home invasion
robberies, up from 36 in 2015, said police spokesperson Const. Steve

As of March this year there had already been 12 home invasions,
according to police records. The Spectator is aware of at least five
more since then, including two in which people were shot.

Those two shootings are among 14 shootings in the first five months of
this year. Of the 22 shootings last year, four happened during home

Drugs and the illegal activity that comes with drugs are behind nearly
all of the growing number of home invasions and shootings, Welton
said. All are considered "targeted."

But it's not just guns - knives, pepper spray, hammers, bats, batons,
pipes and pellet guns have all been used during home invasions, he

There is no singular cause for the growth in what police believe is
drug-related violence, but police also note they are dealing with a
growing opioid crisis. Drug traffickers, drug addicts and criminal
associates are connected to home invasions.

Sometimes the home invasion is to "settle a debt or beef," and
sometimes it's to steal drugs that are known to be in the house,
Welton said. Some of the drugs are opioids that come from pharmacy
robberies, but police also see cocaine and marijuana stolen.

Victims are often not co-operative, making laying charges difficult.
Welton said there is no typical profile of those involved - they see
everyone from youth to people in their 60s.

The home invasions and shootings can happen all over the city,
although in several recent cases the same residences have been
targeted twice.

In unrelated incidents, homes on Green Mountain Road and Macauley
Street East were targeted with gunfire twice respectively in April and

According a police source not authorized to speak on the record,
police are investigating a connection between shots fired between cars
April 16 on Oneida Boulevard in Ancaster, and shots fired at a car on
Emerald Street South May 8.

Police are also investigating a possible connection between two
violent home invasions in which two men were shot May 6 on Weir Street
North and May 9 on Holly Avenue.

In the Holly Avenue case a 46-year-old man suffered life-threatening
injuries and police caught and charged two of three teens in a
high-stakes takedown after they allegedly ran from the home.

On May 11, a 39-year-old woman suffered non-life threatening gunshot
wounds after shots were fired at a West 5th Street home. That same
home was the target of a home invasion May 7.

"The purpose of dealing drugs is to make money, so the violence comes
about because it's an unregulated industry," said Neil Boyd, a
professor and director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser

"If somebody acts unethically, rips someone off, steals product, they
can't go to the Better Business Bureau or courts … sometimes they take
matters into their own hands."

And unlike alcohol (many crimes are influenced by the consumption of
alcohol), with drugs it's more about the systemic problems of violence
tied to the drug trade, he said.

Home invasions are violent crimes that are meant to be confrontations
with targeted residents - unlike a break-in where perpetrators want to
steal goods while homeowners are away.

While the spike in home invasions and shootings is concerning, Boyd
also noted that overall crime rates are down nationally. It's normal
that there may be a rise in crime in particular communities each year,
but criminologists typically want to look at about a 10-year block of
data to judge whether that increase is consistent or just a blip.

A small percentage of people commit most crimes, meaning that just a
few people can create a crime wave in a community, Boyd said.

Police are concerned about the trend, and say they need the public's
help to prevent such crimes.

"The problem is people aren't reporting this information," Welton

To provide information anonymously call Crime Stoppers at
1800-222-8477 or submit your anonymous tips online at
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MAP posted-by: Matt