Commercial break-ins rising in Vancouver amid coronavirus panic
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
Many people believe the reaction to our current worldwide epidemic has brought out the best in people. Unfortunately, it has also brought out the worst in some. Taking advantage of the empty streets and temporarily closed businesses brought on by the quarantine, commercial break-in rates are going up—as reported by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
There were 81 commercial break-ins from March 16 to March 26, and 86 commercial break-in reports from the first two weeks of March. They add that this was especially evident in downtown Van, considering they had seen 20 reports of commercial break-ins in the first two weeks of March and 35 in the week after. They confirmed that what they are seeing is an average of four break-ins a day, compared to the usual one per day.
VPD police chief Adam Palmer said in a news release that although this has always been a problem for the city, it is one that has been exacerbated since the COVID-19 city shutdown.
“Property crime is an issue in Vancouver year-round and we continuously implement new measures to help reduce property crime and target repeat offenders. However, it appears thieves are attempting to take advantage of commercial spaces that are closed due to social distancing measures. We are targeting these offenders aggressively on several levels,” he stated. The VPD has said they are also deploying more overnight patrol officers and safety personnel in city hotspots to quell the increase of break-ins.
The absence of pedestrians, drivers, and potential witnesses has opened the door for many robbers in the city. To stop this, shops in the downtown area have began boarding up their windows and doors. Some luxury brand name stores have even taken to employ 24-hour security guards to protect their assets.
Along with these measures, Vancouver Police also recommend upgrading to new locks and security, removing merchandise from the store, emptying cash drawers and leaving them open to show no money, and cleaning surfaces so fingerprints can be shown if there is a break-in.
While commercial break-in rates are rising, overall property crime to both residential and commercial properties have been decreasing. Police say there has been a 12 percent reduction in these such calls as compared to the weeks before the virus spread and another 10 percent decrease for calls overall.
So, while you’re stuck at home, be sure to lock all your doors and windows. If you own a business, remove all money and merchandise from the property to protect your home and assets to avoid the possibility of robbery.