Maple Ridge store not silent after rash of thefts
A clothing store in downtown Maple Ridge has resorted to a silent alarm to protect its staff following a brazen day time robbery in March.
Since it opened a year ago, Pink Addictions on Selkirk Avenue, off 223rd Street, has been hit by a series of break-ins and thefts, including one where 50 pairs of jeans were stolen in a span of four minutes.
The most recent incident, however, has forced owner Jennifer Martin to take extreme measures to keep her staff safe.
On March 7, a man walked into the store and stole two expensive sweatshirts and a pair of jeans.
In his rush to flee, he pushed the store clerk out of his way and into anti-theft alarm panels near the door.
Despite being hurt, the clerk chased the man and yelled for help on the street.
Witnesses were able to jot down the number plate of the car the man got into.
Martin, though, is frustrated by the police investigation and a lack of communication between her and the officer handling the file.
She doesn’t know if the man involved has been arrested or whether he’ll ever be charged.
“He assaulted my employee, so we should have the right to press charges,” she said.
Martin has contemplated shutting down her store and moving to another location, but would rather stay put.
“I like it here. I want to stay in the area,” she said.
In the past year, she has spent $6,000 on security. She reinforced her store’s back door and recently installed a police light outside the front door, that activates via a silent alarm, to alert nearby businesses and passersby. She’s also been bringing her pit bull to work.
I shouldn’t have to do this to protect my staff, said Martin.
“It’s for my employees. I would feel so sorry if something happened again.”
Ridge Meadows RCMP, however, assure Martin that officers are working on catching the thief and were disappointed to hear she believed the detachment wasn’t taking the crime seriously.
“The investigation is actively being pursued,” said Insp. Dave Fleugel.
“It is understandable for citizens to be frustrated with the speed of some investigations and we appreciate that they are personally impacted by the offence and demand swift action.”
Unlike the movies, he added, investigations are more complex than simply tracking down a thief and handcuffing him. Investigative steps include interviewing witnesses or crafting court orders to obtain and seize information take much longer than many would think.
Other more complicated tasks such as the conversion of security video, fingerprint analysis or DNA collection can take even longer, Fluegel said.
“The standards for charge approval are very high and each investigation is under intense scrutiny by the courts.
“We remain optimistic that we have identified the person or persons responsible and intend on proposing charges for the Crown to consider.”
Despite Martin’s concerns about thefts and break-ins in the downtown core, police statistics show commercial break-and-enters in Maple Ridge dropped 19 per cent from 2010 and 2011. Residential break-ins were also down by three per cent.
Fluegel credits the detachment’s crime reduction approach, which targets known or repeat offenders for the reductions. Those tools include making officers patrol crime “hot spots” or tackling the root causes of crime such as substance abuse.
The RCMP and downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association are also working on a new crime prevention program specifically designed for businesses.