Break and Enter

The Ottawa Police investigates all break-ins to home and commercial properties. People often mistakenly refer to a break-in as a “Robbery” or use the American terminology of a “Burglary” but they are not the same crime.

The definition of a Break and Enter is: the offence committed when any person unlawfully enters any place with the intent of committing a criminal offence therein.

Every case is reviewed by a detective for solvability or in an attempt to link it to other break-ins.  Break and Enters are seen as a serial offense; often when a suspect is caught for committing a break and enter, they have committed more than just one.

The Ottawa Police recognizes that a break and enter can be a very traumatic event. After filing a report (613-236-1222 ext 7300), do not hesitate to speak to a member of our Victim Support Unit or seek other resources to help you.

What is 'a place'?

  • House
  • Commercial Business
  • Fenced in storage area which has locked gates or doors
  • Structure under construction which has doors and walls
  • Home Garage

What is not 'a place' (therefore does not constitute a break not enter*):

  • Car
  • Place under construction which does not have walls or doors erected
  • Detached shed

*Offences occurring within these areas will still be investigated by the police, but not the Break and Enter Unit.

Frequently Asked Questions about Break-ins

What happens after a break-in has occurred?

If you believe the Break and Enter is in progress, call 911.

If you are confident no one is there, please call our Police Reporting Unit and file a report over the phone at 613-236-1222, extension 7300.

An officer will only attend if the Police Reporting Unit is closed or if you are afraid to enter the premises.

Break-in reports are reviewed by a Break and Enter Unit supervisor and assessed for solvability factors. Files with some type of possible lead are assigned to an investigator for a follow-up investigation.

If there are no leads, someone will contact you within approximately seven (7) days from the time you filed your police report.

How can I crime-proof my home?

Break-in suspects do not normally want to be seen or detected. They will usually break into a home that appears to be unoccupied. If you are going away for any length of time, ensure you have a trusted person looking after your home.  Find out how you can safeguard your home with our Crime Prevention and Safety Tips page.

  • Take photos of your valuables/expensive bikes etc.
  • Document the serial and model numbers of bicycles/home electronics/smart phones.
    • If a serial number or another identifier is engraved on jewelry or other items, then the item can be added to CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) as stolen property. This way, if another police officer or police service queries the serial number or engraving, they will know it is stolen and from where.
  • Consider enabling the “find my iPhone” app for all your Apple devices etc. This may help lead officers to the stolen device(s).
  • If bank/credit cards are stolen as a result of the break-in, when they call their bank to cancel the cards, make sure they ask their bank’s corporate security if any of the cards were used for any fraudulent transactions or attempts (these transactions are typically captured on store videos).
  • Lock your car and garage doors. Many suspects will “car-hop” looking for loose change, sunglasses etc., to steal from unlocked cars. Sometimes they will use the garage door remote in the vehicle to open the door to gain entry to the garage to steal tools etc.
  • When working in your backyard and you leave your garage door wide open, be aware that it is very easy for someone to walk into the garage and ride away on an unlocked expensive bike or steal tools, etc.

I have had a break-in and an investigator has not yet called me, what should I do?

Our Break & Enter investigators work shift work, therefore it may take a few days for them to have your report assigned to them. If you have not spoken to an investigator one week after your break-in, call the Break & Enter Unit that corresponds to the area of Ottawa in which the break-in took place.

  • Central – 613-236-1222 x 4533
  • East – 613-236-1222 x 3515
  • West & South - 613-236-1222 x 2655

I think that someone is trying to sell the property stolen from my break-in online, what should I do?

  1. Capture a screen grab of the ad that includes any phone number for the seller, along with the ad number.
  2. Email it to us and quote your report number, or contact your assigned investigator and email it to them directly.

In order for the investigator to be able to seize the property and possibly lay charges, they will have to be able to prove that the item(s) is in fact yours. This is where having a photo of the item and any possible distinguishing features and/or serial numbers is crucial.

Do not attempt to contact the seller or set up your own “sting”. Contact your investigator immediately with the information from the site and allow them to conduct the follow up. It can be extremely dangerous if you attempt to contact this person yourself.

Will I get my property back if the police make an arrest?

The police will do all that they can to have property returned to its rightful owners. Unfortunately, often times the suspect wants to get rid of the property as quickly as they can. They will likely sell the property or simply discard of it, not considering sentimental value it may have for someone. However, if property is recovered, the police will search their data base to find the owner; that is why is important to give the police as much detail as possible as what was taken from your break-in.

Will I be told if someone is caught?

If an arrest is made and charges are laid, the investigator will contact you and they may have you complete a “Victim Impact Statement”. This is a form which will allow you to tell a judge, in your own words, how this crime has affected you when sentencing the accused.

When do most break-ins occur?

There is no set time that a break-in is more likely to occur. There are suspects who only commit break-ins at night, while others operate during the day.

What if I already made a report but thought of something else to add to it?

If you have further information regarding stolen property or information you wish to pass on to an investigator, you can call the Police Reporting Unit (613-236-1222, extension 7300) with your case number and provide the information to be added to the report.