It was announced on Thursday that a collaboration between the OPP South Porcupine Crime Unit and the Timmins Police Service led to the arrest of five individuals in relation to 60 break and enter cases in the Timmins area.

The five accused persons have been charged with over 200 offences for these break-ins that took place within the city of Timmins from mid-September to late December of last year.

The stolen property recovered by police has an estimated value of more than $250,000. Damage to the properties involved is more than $50,000.

“This marks a significant group effort between the Timmins Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police,” said TPS Communications Coordinator, Marc Depatie. “They worked cohesively in dismantling a sophisticated break-and-enter enterprise that has been ongoing for the last six months or so in our area.”

Timmins Chief of Police, John Gauthier, said the high number of charges police laid on the five suspects is a result of the joint efforts by regional and municipal police.

“If you look at the number of charges laid,” Gauthier said, “upwards of 250 charges being laid, it speaks well to the combined efforts of the police services.”

The properties targeted for these crimes were mostly cottages and seasonal homes. Acting Detective Sergeant for the OPP, Mark Donnelly, said this is an opportune time for thieves to target these kinds of homes because lots of people close their cottages for the winter season.

A computer was seized as offence-related property during the investigation, and it seems this computer was used to execute sales of stolen items on social media and online. Police are still examining the computer, but anticipate finding a significant amount of evidence related to these and other thefts, including photos, sales ads and transactions.

Donnelly says it’s likely most of the items that were sold to the unsuspecting public were tools and electronics.

“Those are some of the higher-end items that would be easier for them to sell online,” Donnelly said, “and that there would be a larger demand for that sort of thing. Especially during the Christmas season as people are looking for gifts.”

If anyone suspects they have purchased a stolen item online between mid-September and the present, they should contact police.

“Please contact us,” he said, “If you’re unsure if you’ve had an interaction with any of the people that are involved in the investigation and it’s during that time frame, please give us a call. We can try and identify if the item that you’re in possession of is stolen or if it was legitimately acquired. But, right now, there’s just so much property involved that we’re not sure if the stolen stuff was sold, or if it’s been given to somebody else.”

Donnelly said he thinks there may be other people with knowledge of the crimes.

“I think there’s still other people that have knowledge of the crimes. Whether they were specifically involved in assisting the accused is a different story. But it’s possible that there were other people that were involved in committing them.”

Police are still investigating a theft in Foleyet that took place last November, where several items were stolen, including four firearms. A red 2010 Honda 32 snow blower was also taken. Police recovered a set of keys with a black lanyard with “Northern Ontario Expo” written in white font. Police believe the owner of the keys may have information that can help with the investigation and they are urging anyone with any information about this or other thefts to contact police.

There’s no question that the results of this major investigation was, in part, due to the collaboration of the two local police forces in the area.

“Each one of the police services are good on their own,” said Gauthier, “there’s no question about it. But, I think, coming together makes us even that much better and more efficient.”

“Officers work amongst each other,” said Depatie, “they share information, they share their intelligence, they share trends in crime so that cohesively they work together towards making Timmins a safer place to live.”

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