NORTH BAY -- North Bay Police, along with summer students in the Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) program, are working with downtown businesses to prevent crime.

Police are educating merchants about what they can do by handing out cards with tips on how best to protect stores and homes from thieves.

In just more than a year, police say there has been a 60 per cent increase in break and enters throughout the city. In May, police saw a 35-per-cent spike in commercial property break-ins, while 110 break and enters took place by March, compared to 62 at the same time in 2019.

"Our downtown core was hit with a number of break and enters starting last summer through until the spring," said Const. John Schultz.

Officers, along with the help of two YIPI students, came up with an idea to create the cards.

"To give businesses downtown a practical guide of what they can do to prevent crime in their area and make themselves less of a target," said YIPI student Sheldon Kilroy.

Some of the tips include having a working alarm system, and police encourage all businesses owners to document prized valuables and their serial numbers, so if they are stolen and found, they can be returned right away.

"Make sure your surveillance is working and that there's no clutter in the windows," said YIPI student Saida Wells. "So, you can see in and out because people could be hiding behind different signs and stuff by your business."

Police are now going from store-to-store handing out the cards, listening to concerns and working collaboratively to reduce crime downtown.

"We did run a very successful investigation that saw over 100 charges in June," said Schultz. "However, we want to continue on with that."

Business owner Barry Klus is thrilled to see the initiative underway downtown.

"The relationship has been growing over the past little while with the police and certainly initiatives like this (are) great because we see them much more committed to the downtown," said Klus, after he received his card.