A Vancouver Island business owner is speaking out, fed up after experiencing his 19th break-in across five stores over close to 25 years of operation.
Jeff Ross has Gold Silver Guy shops in Nanaimo, Qualicum and Duncan, full of jewelry, coins and other collectibles. He said the Duncan location was broken into on July 27, with security footage showing the thief smashing the glass window to take items from a display case behind it.
Ross said his losses from the last three break-ins — including one in January and one in October — now add up to $75,000. To boot, he’s no longer insurable due to risk.
“Out of all 19 break-ins, two items only have I ever recovered and that totals only about $80. It’s difficult to stay in business when you get beat over the head so many times,” Ross told Global News.
“In the end, the consumer pays. Either I change more or I turn around and close the business.”
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Ross said he likes working too much to give the business up, but believes the “system is broken.” Someone recently lit a fire outside one of his shops as well, he added.
“Today, a homeless person or a person who’s got no job or no money — they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by breaking into some business,” he said in an interview in Nanaimo.
“There’s no penalty, there’s no reason for a person not to steal. They get a slap on the wrist, they go to jail for a night or two perhaps and they’re rewarded with a welfare cheque.”
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Increased crime has recently spawned public safety rallies in multiple B.C. cities, including Nanaimo, Victoria, Penticton, Surrey, Prince George, Dawson Creek, and Kamloops. Ross has participated from Nanaimo.
In April, the province announced the Vancouver Island city would house one of 12 new hubs of the Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative. Each hub will see a dedicated team of police, prosecutors and probation officers pool their expertise and resources in an attempt to achieve better outcomes when repeat, violent offenders present themselves.
They will also monitor cases involving prolific offenders through the investigation, court process and community supervision phase in an attempt to break cycles of recidivism. To date, 64 case referrals have been made to the program in Nanaimo.
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At the time, Farnworth also announced an additional $75,000 in funding for existing programs tailored to Nanaimo’s specific safety needs. Nanaimo RCMP, further, will have access to a new $16-million fund that expands police investigative resources and targeted enforcement capacity.
Ross’s comments come a little over a month after the House of Commons rose early for the summer, without passing bail reform legislation that provincial governments — including B.C. — have been advocating for, for many months.
In May, Ottawa tabled Bill C-48, which would change the Criminal Code to require courts to consider a suspect’s history of convictions for violence, community safety, and security concerns before making a bail decision. If passed, it would also expand the set of circumstances under which the onus falls on a suspect to demonstrate why they should be let out on bail.
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