A series of nearly 20 break-and-enters in Saanich homes in recent months has police searching for suspects and issuing a warning to homeowners.

Between March and July, Saanich police received "almost 20 reports of homeowners returning from a trip to find their house ransacked."

Thieves gained entry mostly through rear windows or doors and stole items like jewelry, cash and liquor.

People living in the homes were all away at the time, according to police.

"We believe that the person or persons responsible are deliberately targeting these homes knowing that they have the luxury of time once inside," police said in a news release.

In addition to deploying patrol, street crime and intelligence officers to help solve the break-ins, police are asking Saanich residents to call them if they know who's responsible.

"Additionally, if you see someone behaving or looking suspicious in your neighbourhood, we want you to call us at the time you see them," police said. "Delaying your call could mean the person has moved on and we are then unable to locate them."

The department has several tips for homeowners to protect their home from thieves while on a trip, including:

  • Locking all doors and windows regardless of where they are
  • Put a temporary halt on newspaper and package deliveries
  • Use motion lights and timers and a home security system if you have one
  • Tell family, friends and neighbours that you'll be on vacation
  • Have someone check in on your property
  • Don't post photos of your trip to social media until you return home