VICTORIA -- Victoria police are encouraging residents and businesses to secure their properties after police received two reports of home prowlers Tuesday night.

Police say that the prowlers were spotted in the 800-block of Elrick Place and the 500-block of Lampson Street in the backyards and side yards of homes in the area.

The first call came in at about 8:30 pm in the Elrick Place neighbourhood. A resident called 911 to report someone was in their backyard.

“What alerted the caller to somebody in their yard was the fact they had a spotlight on a motion detector,” said VicPD Insp. Keith Lidner. “Unfortunately the complainant didn’t get a real good look at the person. All they could describe was dark clothing, possibly carrying a backpack.”

Police, including canine unit officers, arrived on scene and attempted to track the perpetrator. Police were unable to locate anyone fitting the description of the alleged prowler. There were no reports of anything being stolen.

A little more than two hours later, at 10:15 pm, police received another call from the Lampson Street area.

“This time the complainant saw the person,” said Lidner. “They are described as a white male, heavy set, possibly older, wearing dark clothing.”

The person who made the call to police yelled at the suspect and the person ran from the area. They also heard a crash and it is suspected the alleged prowler fell while going over a neighbour’s fence. Again officers searched the neighbourhood with the help of a police dog, but no one was found.

There were also no reports of any thefts at the Lampson Street scene.

Police did find what appeared to be footprints in the dew-covered grass, which they say is evidence someone was looking in neighbourhood backyards.

Though officers found nothing was stolen, they say people should be aware of anything that looks out of place in the area around their home. Police say property crime is a crime of opportunity and thieves are always looking for an opportunity to steal.

“One individual can prowl 200 cars in a night,” said Lidner. “If you’ve left you lawnmower out or your leaf blower, criminals will sell that for cash.”

Lidner recommends people protect their homes and properties by making sure their doors are locked. He recommends installing motion sensor lights to illuminate doorways and yards. Another way you can prevent being the victim of a prowler is to get to know your neighbours or join a neighbourhood watch.

Police don’t know if the two prowler incidents are connected, and they will continue to investigate. They say if you see someone prowling around your neighbourhood, call 911 immediately.

With the two suspicious incidents reported in one night, VicPD has released a number of safety tips for property owners through their program, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). 

The CPTED method of protecting property aims to make use of the surrounding environment to make properties seem less attractive to possible criminals. 

One of the easiest steps homeowners can take to protect their homes using CPTED is to improve visibility so that trespassers can be seen lurking around a property. VicPD suggests trimming hedges, lowering fences and installing motion sensing lights as a few ways to deter criminals.

VicPD notes that the most common time for break-ins, contrary to popular belief, is during the day between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Police add that 64 per cent of trespassers enter through the front, side or rear doors.

Meanwhile, business owners are being warned to lock windows and be especially careful with ground-level glass doors or windows. The majority of criminals smash glass to enter businesses, according to VicPD, so police recommend installing security window glaze, shutters, alarm systems and removing expensive items from windows at night. 

Unlike home break-ins, police say that 82 per cent of business break-and-enters occur overnight, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

For a comprehensive look at how to protect property from thieves, visit VicPD's website online here.