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Nickel & dime crime on the rise

In the crime maps, published by Castanet last week, there appears to be an alarming rash of break and enters in one particular area of the city.

During the week of Jan. 13-19 there were five incidents on Lawrence Avenue – between Centennial Crescent and Kelgler Crescent – but Kelowna RCMP Cst. Kris Clark says most of those events were associated with petty crime linked to apartment buildings.

“At least half of those break and enters (total from that week) were theft of coins from coin-operated laundries in apartment buildings,” says Clark.

“It’s a recent increase that we’ve seen over the last little bit and very likely that it’s one person in particular that’s been committing that one offence, hence the increase we’re seeing.”

Clark stresses that the severity in these break and enters is far below that of a home invasion and essentially amounts to petty crime, but warns residents to still use common sense and be aware of their surroundings.

Stu Regan lives in Fairlane Court, one of the apartment buildings recently targeted. He has lived there for the past two years because he likes the location, it’s central and close to downtown, but says in retrospect he would never have chosen this area.

“A lot of drug dealing, a lot of petty crime, and a lot of homeless. (Lawrence) can be very active on Friday and Saturday nights,” he says.

His building's laundry room has been broken into at least two twice since he’s lived there, and both the outside doors and laundry room doors have also had their locks switched on multiple occasions.

“It’s petty crime, an opportunity; they know that people put $1.50 in the machines and it's there. After a run of two or three weeks, you can grab a couple hundred dollars,” says Regan.

He says the police presence in that area of town is quite strong and he does feel safe in his home. But he also admits that he doesn’t feel the same way once the sun goes down.

“If anyone were to ask me if I feel safe in this city at nighttime, after 12 o’clock, I’d tell them 'No'.

“It does depend on the area. They moved a lot of the things from downtown up this way and even further – Rutland is a very bad area to be at 12 o’clock at night.”

It was also earlier this week that the Kelowna RCMP confirmed many people’s suspicions, that the death of Chris Ausman was indeed a homicide.

Clark says there is no area of the city that is inherently unsafe, but residents should do what they can to ensure their personal safety at any time of the day or night.

Calls made to Argus Properties, the company that manages Fairlane Court, were not returned.

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