Operating in the shadow of the Main Street construction, a business owner is demanding the city provide better security after a weekend break-in at her store.
Anne Bauer, of At the Front Door Home Decor, received a call from the RCMP around 1 a.m. Sunday advising the entryway to her small business at 101-218 Main Street had been smashed.
Fortunately, the criminals only targeted the cash register, slamming it on the floor to open the drawer which contained no money.
“I think the problem came in with construction, it’s just so dark down there right now and it’s just a very isolated area,” said Bauer, who runs the 800-square-foot business with partner Jane Pilkey. “The security lady (who was on duty that night) stopped in yesterday morning (Sunday) and was apologetic she missed it.
“I’m not even comfortable that they (security) were walking around by themselves. You saw how that fencing is. I can’t imagine walking that block in the night by yourself, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Due to the work there are currently no streetlights or construction floodlights which are often used to illuminate a work site.
The fence she referred to is several metres in height and is on the roadway portion, leaving just the space of the sidewalk accessible and blocking much of the visibility.
Bauer believes this was more of a crime of opportunity, in part because one of the loose sidewalk bricks on the ground nearby was used to smash the door.
“Of course the loose bricks should be cleaned up, not just because it’s a good opportunity if you’ve got nothing better to do than throw it through a window but people falling, it’s probably a tripping hazard,” she said.
Bauer added another problem is business operators were informed by the city at the start of the work the area would be dark and to leave their interior lights on.
“I guess it’s a bit of a catch 22 because people walking by can see what’s inside, like a cash register,” she said. “I’m hoping that now we maybe put some floodlights in because it is in everybody’s best interest, whether it’s security people, business owners or just people walking their dogs. I think it’s unsafe right now.”
As a result of the break-in the store was closed Monday but re-opened Tuesday
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, who also operates a business in the 200-block of Main Street, indicated steps to improve the situation are already being considered.
“I’ve sent Eric, our CAO (Chief Administrative Officer Eric Sorensen), a note to see how can we increase our security within the budget,” he said. “We are taking it serious and we are going to meet with the RCMP and DPA (Downtown Penticton Association) and see what else can be done to keep our businesses safe and we’ll be vigilant in attempting to do so.”
He added DPA executive director Kerri Milton had been in contact with him about the issue since the break in.
In the meantime, anyone with any information about the break-in is asked to call the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.