A rash of broken windows, shoplifting, and an April 8 daylight break-in attempt at Trigo’s Lifestyle Store on Kalum St. has management feeling unsupported by the city, bystanders and RCMP.
Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that in the span of a little over a month there have been four windows broken at the store, and two people tried to break in at around 7:40 a.m. April 8 using the base of a portable fence as a battering ram on the front door. Trigo said nobody called the police, even though there were witnesses.
“There’s so many bystanders all the time, who witnessed so many things, and not just at our store here, but all around town,” Trigo said.
“People witness shoplifting all the time, they never call the police, they just turn a blind eye to the situation.”
In an effort to curb break-ins and theft, Trigo’s offered store products in exchange for sweeping, landscaping and shovelling snow by people unable to afford items. Trigo said one person called displaying interest but never took the store up on the offer.
Trigo said business owners have been using Facebook to share information about people who have been stealing and vandalizing stores, and she has been trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
“I’m too kindhearted, I know they steal, I still let them in because I like to give them a chance, and then I always end up getting burned in the end,” she said.
According to Trigo, issues with human excrement left in public places and theft have increased within the last two years. She would like to see security in the area beefed up, especially at night. She said if the RCMP are overworked or do not have enough members, the City of Terrace should ensure police are properly staffed and funded.
“Someone the other day shoplifted something, what [the RCMP] told us on the phone is that they were too busy attending to other calls to come in and they asked if we could just email a statement to them,” Trigo said.
“They didn’t even have the time to come into the store and speak to us there.”
The Terrace RCMP said in an email that while incidents like that are unfortunate, police receive hundreds of calls each week and need to prioritize calls such as crimes against persons or events where a person’s health or safety are in danger.
“Due to the growth in Terrace, this also increases the demands on the service provided and many local businesses are noticing this,” Terrace RCMP Cst. Kelly Cates said in an email.
Terrace RCMP say they are continuing to patrol and police the downtown core around the clock, which takes up a large amount of officers’ time.
Police recommend locking vehicle doors and keeping valuables out of sight to reduce the incentive for theft. That can free up police from those calls and allow them to focus on other areas. Using video surveillance technology, updated with the correct date and time stamps is also important.
“A large help is, and a big thank you goes to, business owners and community members who have been called upon to provide video surveillance to police for investigations which don’t even relate to their business,” Cst. Cates said. “We need to work together as a community to face these challenges.”