Watching out for each other

Maple Ridge Business Watch launched in conjunction with the business improvement association.

Authentic Ink Tattoo owner Tracey Nahachewsky displays the Business Watch sticker as part of a new initiative between the BIA and the RCMP to curb downtown crime.

Authentic Ink Tattoo owner Tracey Nahachewsky displays the Business Watch sticker as part of a new initiative between the BIA and the RCMP to curb downtown crime.

Tracey Nahachewsky would rather not think about the morning she was attacked while taking the trash to a dumpster behind her store.

Eight months later, she still bears the scars.

“I guess I startled a homeless guy,” said Nahachewsky, recalling the day in October when she was wrestled to the ground in an alley behind her tattoo store on Lougheed Highway.

The ensuing struggle cracked a bone in her thumb, damaged her knee and shoulder.

“It was fight or flight at that point,” she said.

With no surveillance footage of the attack or witnesses, police were unable to locate her assailant.

The incident, however, prompted police to step up foot patrols. It also made everyone who owns a business in the 22300 block of Lougheed Highway more vigilant.

“Nobody wants it to happen again,” said Nahachewsky, who owns Authentic Ink.

Vigilance and more eyes on the streets and alleys have, in turn, made the area safer.

“With the police walking around a lot more, it’s helped,” said Nahachewsky.

“We are now watching out for each other.”

The Downtown Business Improvement Association and Ridge Meadows RCMP hope to spread similar neighbourliness throughout the downtown with a program designed to bring people together.

“It’s very similar to a Block Watch program, where we are just encouraging business to be neighbourly,” said Special Const. Steve Terrillon, who launched Maple Ridge Business Watch in conjunction with the business improvement association Thursday.

The year-long pilot project will be tested on businesses between 222nd and 224th streets, from Dewdney Trunk Road to Lougheed Highway.

Everyone who signs up can request a safety audit of their workplace, will get information on how to report crime and alerts about crime trends or suspicious occurrences.

If there’s been a rash of windows broken, thefts or someone with counterfeit money, businesses will be notified via email.

“We want to foster a relationship between businesses,” said Terrillon.

The program will also remind businesses to report every incident to police, no matter how trivial it may seem.

The reports allow police to track crime and assign the appropriate resources to it.

“It’s hard for us to allocate resources if we don’t know there’s a problem,” said Terrillon.

Business Watch ties in with the RCMP’s crime reduction approach to policing and seeks to put an even bigger dent in an already decreasing crime rate.

Police statistics show commercial break-and-enters in Maple Ridge dropped 19 per cent from 2010 and 2011.

Terrillon believes Maple Ridge Business Watch will make a difference.

“It won’t get rid of all crime, but it will help decrease it,” he added.

Two businesses – Authentic Ink and Wanstalls – have already signed up to be part of the program. If well-received, the BIA will expand the program to the entire downtown core and eventually spread it across the municipality.

Richmond and Burnaby have similar programs that have run successfully for several years.

“We are really happy to partner with the RCMP on this,” said BIA executive director Ineke Boekhorst.

“Anything we can do to help business be more proactive and with prevention is good.”

• To learn more about Maple Ridge Business Watch, call the downtown BIA at 604-467-2420.