A man recently put behind bars for several break-ins to Oliver businesses is likely responsible for 40 of the 45 smash and grabs that plagued the small town in 2022, said RCMP.
Sgt. Don Wrigglesworth, commander of the Oliver detachment, told directors of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen on Thursday that Lloyd John (L.J.) Baptiste was being investigated for more break-ins than the three he was recently arrested over.
“In the last three months we were just destroyed by break-and-enters with businesses on Main Street in Oliver. We have one individual in jail, who we believe is responsible for 40 of the 45 break-and-enters that happened in those three months,” Wrigglesworth said. “It just shows what one individual can do, not just to a small town, but to the whole Southeast District.”
Those break-ins were included in Oliver’s 54 break-ins for 2022, which was a stark rise from the 12 reported in all of 2021. It was one of the categories of property crime that contributed to the increase in cases in Oliver from 453 in 2021 to 633 in 2022.
Wrigglesworth, along with other RCMP detachment commanders, was at the RDOS to present the year-end statistics for the region.
Working on the case was frustrating, especially with a large amount of public displeasure over the continued break-ins shared in the community and through social media.
“It’s very difficult to monitor or surveil a person who doesn’t have a fixed address, who’s couch surfing, who is at houses where the predominant purpose of that house is for people with addictions to use with other people who have addictions,” said Wrigglesworth.
Evidence from multiple properties, with trails that led from break-ins, led to warrants for further searches. According to Wrigglesworth, in at least five instances at crime scenes investigators retrieved DNA samples from where the suspect cut himself.
“It’s not going to be overnight results, it’s not the CSI TV situation,” said Wrigglesworth. “At this point we have the evidence back from a couple of scenes and the lab told us it’s the same profile.”
There was plenty of praise for the efforts from the RCMP on tackling the crime in the community, but the prolific nature of Baptiste’s alleged activities drew a commonly heard criticism of the legal system.
“You know, somewhere along the line, we’re going to have to remove the blindfold from Lady Justice so she can tell the difference between the unfortunate and the vicious here,” said RDOS Director Rick Knodel.
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