For the last month, plywood has covered the glass front door at Pup Paradise that was shattered when someone broke into the dog grooming shop and walked out with expensive equipment.
Boarded-up doors or windows aren’t an unusual sight along the stretch of storefronts on McPhillips Street near Mountain Avenue, said manager Nicole Oliver.
“I feel like it’s (getting) worse because of all the break-ins that have been occurring,” she said Monday. “It’s like the Wild West around here sometimes.”
Fed up with burglaries, vandalism and other crimes, the owners or managers of about a dozen McPhillips businesses, including Pup Paradise, held an inaugural meeting Friday to share ideas and discuss potential deterrents.
Representatives of the city’s police service and police board, four politicians, the principal of a nearby school and members of a neighborhood watch group also attended.
The meeting was spearheaded by Four Crowns Inn owner Ravi Ramberran after his restaurant and bar was broken into three times in one week last month.
Owners such as Ramberran have lost thousands of dollars in each incident, bearing the costs of replacing windows and merchandise while paying for expensive insurance policies and deductibles.
Some have installed reinforced glass windows, security coverings and surveillance cameras after being hit.
One business owner, he said, is closing after several break-ins in recent weeks.
“Everyone is frustrated. We’re tired of paying more money to protect ourselves,” said Ramberran.
For business owners and managers, the meeting was a chance to get to know each other and set up a group chat where they can text information or support.
“It was good for the business owners just to see each other, and realize we’re not alone and other people are going through this,” said Studio 727 owner Leah Ann Pedersen, whose hair salon was broken into twice last year.
Pedersen would welcome a formal business association or improvement zone similar to those in other Winnipeg neighbourhoods.
The alliance is figuring out its next steps after discussing potential measures such as hiring private security for late-night patrols, working with neighborhood watch groups and installing more surveillance cameras.
Ramberran said the group’s requests to police include a cadet presence.
Detroit’s Project Green Light also came up during the two-hour discussion.
The controversial project gives police in the US city access to live video surveillance from businesses, apartment buildings and others who choose to participate.
It is used in conjunction with facial-recognition technology.
count. Ross Eadie, whose Mynarski ward includes part of McPhillips St., said a senior police officer told the participants Canada’s privacy laws would be a roadblock to such an initiative.
The meeting also identified the need to do more to address social risk factors as part of crime-prevention efforts.
Some of the business owners expressed frustration with federal laws and the justice system’s revolving doors.
“The police are overloaded arresting the same people,” said Ramberran.
The police representatives who spoke at the meeting said calls for service have increased and resources are stretched, participants said.
The owners were told response times to property crimes may not be as speedy as they’d like because the priority is “human life” calls, said Ramberran.
“The meeting gave us an understanding of why we’re getting the crime we’re getting,” he said.
Wally Ruban, president and owner of Winnipeg Rentals Inc., said it’s unfortunate the business community has had to “band together” as victims of crime.
Winnipeg Rentals manages the Terra Commons condominium complex, which he said has already hired private security and installed more LED lights to deter criminals.
Some residents have had their vehicles broken into, said Ribbon.
He attended the meeting to support efforts to improve safety and “scare off the negative element” in the area.
At Pup Paradise, Oliver is welcoming the businesses’ attempts to prevent crime and protect each other. In the two years since the shop opened, vehicles belonging to staff have been broken into.
The dog grooming shop suffered its first break-in Aug. 20, when someone stole a television, laptop computer and about $100 in cash, said Oliver.
“It would be better for all of us if we work together and look out for each other,” she said.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
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