Store owner frustrated by constant crime, break-ins and feels Penticton is no longer a safe city

'Not a safe place'

A Penticton business owner doesn't know what more he can do to stop thieves, after putting bars on his windows and still struggling with constant break-ins and shoplifting.

“It's just frustrating, it really is," Don Hardy, the owner of Dollar Dollar in Penticton Plaza, said.

"It's extremely hard, they've broken in three times the exact same way [in the last 10 months]. We have shatterproof glass and I did put some bars up but they weren't good enough obviously."

The most recent break-in occurred on Sunday night, with the perpetrator popping in and out in seven minutes after smashing his way in.

“I mean he punched a hole just above the bars, reached down and grabbed the latch so he totally knew what he was doing.

“What I've done now is I've just barred it up completely so there's no way they're going to get in.”

Hardy voiced his frustrations on a local Facebook page about needing to add more security to his store.

“I have a door that's all boarded up and every single customer walks in and just says ‘I'm so sorry this is happening to you yet again.’ So it's becoming commonplace for me in this store,” he said.

“But what do you do? Falling short of putting bars up throughout my entire store, which might cost me $20,000. I could go that route ... But we can't afford it.”

The break-ins and shoplifting are stressful for his staff as well, seeing thieves snatch items four or five times a week.

“Of course I asked my staff not to approach them, and I do. One guy got extremely aggressive with me the other day and luckily the police were there within a minute.”

Hardy believes a greater police presence would be ‘extremely helpful’ for the community, but also wants to see changes made in the judicial system.

“I just think we really need to fight crime somehow. And it all starts with the Crown counsel they're just not doing anything about crime in this city ... You're getting thieves in and just coming in and grabbing what they want and leaving. They don't really care, they know they're being watched, and they know that the Crown counsel is not going to do anything about [prosecuting].”

Crime has been a frequent topic of conversation in the city of late. Mayor John Vassilaki recently stated his opinion that Penticton is in 'crisis mode' over crime. The city has one of the highest caseloads per RCMP officer in British Columbia.

South Okanagan detachment commander Supt. Brian Hunter has told council in the past that the key is targeting prolific offenders through proactive policing, a task which would be made easier with more staff.

Vassilaki put forward a motion last week to consider adding three new RCMP officers — on top of two new approved earlier this year, and two others who were built into the 2021 budget — for the 2022 budget.

Alongside this, council voted unanimously to add two new public safety officers in the 2022 budget talks.

“It's just apparently there's a break in every night in Penticton ... I don't think Penticton is a very safe place right now,” Hardy added.

Penticton was also dubbed the most dangerous city in the Okanagan in 2020, according to recent data from Statistics Canada showing a crime severity index of 180.

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