Some of the damage left behind from a break-and-enter at ad hoc, located at 261 Main Street, in the early hours of March 28. Owner Virginia Bray said the community needs more support to deal with this ongoing crime wave. Photo from Instagram

Recent break-in leaves Penticton business owner frustrated

Virigina Bray, owner of ad hoc, wants to see more consistent, preventative measures from RCMP

A recent break-in at a downtown Penticton business has left the owner frustrated with the city’s and RCMP’s response to a seeming uptick in crime in the community.

ad hoc, a clothing boutique located at 261 Main Street, was the site of a break and enter during the early morning of March 28. Thieves broke one the shop’s front windows and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and costume jewellery according to Penticton RCMP.

“Residents in the area were awake at the time (approximately 2 a.m.) and heard the window smash. So they came out right away and saw the guys running out of the store,” said Virginia Bray, the store’s owner. “They actually chased them a little as they took off to the north on Main Street, which is not what I want because we want everyone to be safe. Who knows what could have happened, but they couldn’t catch up with them.”

Bray said she, her husband and Penticton RCMP attended the scene shortly after receiving a call from their alarm company alerting them to the break-in. Bray said she does not believe the people who broke into her business “were of sound mind and body” and is less concerned with finding the culprits than having the overall downtown policed better.

“It’s rough downtown right now, like (during the day) you look outside and see people sleeping across the street. And we have people coming in everyday who are obviously not sober, it’s sketchy,” said Bray. “It’s a worry. So when it comes to your front window (and after hours) do you curtain it off? The expense to put in bars that looked anything other than aggressive, the expense to the business owner is pretty crazy.”

READ ALSO: Break-ins, broken windows: Downtown Penticton sees overnight rise in crime

Bray said the breaking of the window is actually where her business was hit hardest with this apparent crime of opportunity. She said her insurance provider warned her about claiming the damage through her coverage because of the risk of it happening again throughout the summer.

“I’m not going to claim this through my insurance because if it happens again, my premiums will go up. And I was talking with my insurance provider and he said, ‘If you claim this, and then another couple happen over the summer, we’ll be really challenged in finding you an insurance provider and your premiums will be impossible for you to support,’” said Bray.

Bray had just recently relocated ad hoc to it’s current location and said until the break-in, business had been booming. Now, with plywood covering a large portion of her storefront, sales have slowed to a crawl.

“It’s interesting because we’ve been really happy about the success of the new location. We’ve had lots of people through and more traffic and people finding us after we opened on March 11,” said Bray. “Then as soon as this plywood went up, nobody came up. We put a sign on the door saying we are open and did some social media posts saying we were opened in spite of what had happened, but yeah we have nobody coming in.”

READ ALSO: POLL: Does crime increase as temperatures rise?

Bray said she knows she’s not the only other resident and business owner being impacted by the recent crimes in the community. The same evening, a pick-up truck on Orchard Avenue had its topper damaged in an attempted break-in and another car parked in a private lot on Martin Street had the driver’s side window smashed.

“Every (business owner) that I have spoken to has said this is out of control. It’s just constant, this rise in vandalism and sketchiness and crime,” said Bray. “We’re not sure how to address the issue or cope with it.

“Even if you apprehend the person, and let’s say they have mental health concerns, I’m not in a position where I want to blame somebody (for that). Those people need support, and I very much want them to have that. But on the same token you also have a community that needs support.”

While the RCMP do daily patrols in the downtown, Bray said she would like to see more consistent, preventative measures taken in terms of cracking down on crime. She said unfortunately this incident has tainted her opinion of being a business owner in downtown Penticton, but will continue to focus on the positives as she moves on from this incident.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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