DOLLARD-DES-ORMEAUX -- City officials are asking for the public's help following a rash of break-ins on the West Island. A total of 19 homes have been targeted in the last few weeks.

The robberies have all taken place in the past month in the Dollard-des-Ormeaux area between Sources and Saint-John Blvds. and Roger-Pilon St. and Brunswick Blvd., usually between 8 p.m. and midnight.

“We know certain groups operate in different areas, and we know exactly how they operate, but unfortunately we need to establish certain patterns and talk to individuals to know exactly who it is,” said Jose de los Rios of the Montreal police.  

Hoping to catch the culprits in action, police and Dollard-des-Ormeaux city officials said they need the public's help, by teaming up and forming a neighbourhood watch.

People might be skeptical but the system does work. It really does work,” said DDO councillor Morris Vesely.

In 2009, residents in the Westpark area responded to a similar string of break-ins with a neighbourhood watch. Shortly after, the crooks were caught red-handed.

“If you don't talk to your neighbour or look around, it doesn't help,” said DDO city councillor Zoe Bayouk. “You need to know your neighbour.”

City officials have signed up so-called “street captains” to keep close contact with police, while public security has stepped up patrols in the area.

DDO resident Danny Engel hopes the culprits are caught soon – his house has been targeted four times in seven years.

The latest break-in was two weeks ago, one of several on his street alone.

“They're just so bold. They just break in. They know they have a few minutes before the police actually come,” he said, adding that his teenaged son was home during one of the robberies.

“He walked out of the washroom, and there was a guy opening a drawer and he looked up, scooted, ran into the basement and left,” said Engel.

Police's best advice for homeowners: leave your lights on, get an good alarm system, and perhaps most importantly, get to know your neighbours.