Nineteen businesses in Mission’s downtown core have been broken into, or have been targeted by break-in attempts, in the past four months, according to the downtown business association.
That’s just under one-fifth of the businesses in the area.
Jamie Hayes, executive director of the Mission Downtown Business Association, said the break-ins are becoming an epidemic.
She said in most cases that she has heard of, no “big ticket items” have been stolen, just “whatever was lying around.”
“The thing that I find perplexing is that some of the businesses that are being targeted have been surprising. There are some businesses where you would think that there is nothing to steal,” said Hayes.
While she would not name any of the sites that have fallen victim to thieves, she said some of them were office buildings.
“In the end, it is just a nuisance for the business that they have to deal with this. It’s violating, inconvenient and it’s costly.”
But Hayes said downtown isn’t the only area that is being impacted. Other businesses have been hit. She said many owners are getting frustrated and angry.
Hayes is encouraging business owners to report everything to police, even if it is just suspicious activity.
“The more reports that are made, the more patrols in this area,” she said.
Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jaeger said patrols aren’t nearly as effective at deterring thieves as “target-hardening,” when businesses take steps themselves to deter thieves by increasing security precautions and adding barriers to would-be crooks.
De Jaeger said the RCMP also recently arrested one man suspected in connection with three of the downtown break-ins, along with another elsewhere in town. “We knew who it was,” he said. “We just had to find him and arrest him.”
He said police are targeting others believed responsible for the spree.
“We have a very good idea of who is committing the more brazen ones.”
And with a tiny percentage of people responsible for the bulk of property crime, De Jaeger expects that a few arrests will have a large impact on the number of such break-ins.
“We usually see dramatic drops as soon as we get the right person.”
In the meantime, he advises local businesses to consult with the community policing office for tips on how to deter thieves. Monitored alarms and high-quality video surveillance are highly recommended, he said, as are physical barriers – especially behind plate glass windows.
He also emphasized the need to contact police to report all incidents, as the RCMP employs a crime analyst and uses the data to help solve and prevent crime. While the MDBA has reported 19 incidents, the RCMP only has 14 break-ins or attempted break-ins recorded during the last four months.
“Nothing is too small to report,” he said.
– with files from Tyler Olsen