REGINA -- Saskatchewan RCMP's Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction Unit says there is an increase in breaking and entering, thefts, mischief and attempted breaking and entering into Saskatchewan churches.

From January 2020 to November 2020 64 of these incidents have occurred in 55 churches across Saskatchewan which represents a 60 percent increase in break-ins in churches since 2019, RCMP said in a news release.

The majority of the incidents saw doors of churches opened by force at night after it was closed and left vacant. Money, electronics, safes are among a few of the items thieves stole. 

Central Saskatchewan experienced the most rapid growth in break-ins. 43 churches were broken into accounting for a 173 percent increase. 

“This increase in church break-ins is concerning enough that it creates a pattern. Even though the break-ins mostly happened in the Central District and during the summer, this new criminal trend is noticeable because these break-ins happened all year and across Saskatchewan. It is imperative that we all get involved to better secure these buildings," RCMP crime analyst Monica Deters said in the release. 

All churches of denominations are being targeted and that nothing indicates this new trend is motivated by hate, racism or ideology, RCMP said

Due to the increase RCMP are asking for the public's help to prevent break-ins from happening. 

Stay alert, especially at night, and report any suspicious activity around churches to your local detachment or police service, RCMP said.

RCMP also suggest keeping an eye on your community’s churches and make sure your religious representatives know about this new increase of break-ins into churches

If you are a community representative, find ways to discuss the possibility of repurposing and managing abandoned churches in your community, RCMP said