Business owner Chip Sabyan said he has been left with no other option to deter thieves from breaking into his business than to sleep in his vehicle at work.
Sabyan, the owner of Sabyan Automotive Service and Repair, said in the month of April alone his auto recycling and vehicle storage business was broken into 4 times and also experienced one attempted break-in. “I have to sleep down here sometimes, weeks on end with one eye open, the other one half shut to try to do my best to keep them out of here because we seem to have no other help,” he said.
Other small business owners in the Oliver industrial park echo the sentiment. Dennis Munckhof owns Munckhof Manufacturing – says “Locally there is just a ton of unrest about the amount of crime and it’s really starting to hit people right in their own backyards”.
“They (RCMP) are very under-staffed in particular because the amount of work they have to do to bring one case to court,” Munckhof added.
Ed Machial owns South Okanagan Equipment and says “We’ve had guys come in, 1 o’clock in the morning, steal one of my trucks loaded with a customer’s machine,” “They’re not coming in from somewhere else, they are kids that have grown up here, their families have been here for a long time, so it’s local activity.”
Richard Simmons owns Rapid Industries, a truck repair business. He said crime has gotten worse in recent years. “A lot of theft, trucks being gone through, battery theft, we can’t keep a battery in our outdoor forklifts, we have to take them in every night,” he said.
Property crime increased 34 per cent with 125 reported incidents in the first quarter of 2018, compared to 93 incidents in the same time period the year before.
“Oliver has been experiencing a higher property crime rate than other communities in the South Okanagan. This is mostly due to prolific offenders,” said Supt. Ted de Jager
Concerned residents said proposed solutions include more boots on the ground, better street lighting, and enhanced video surveillance such as CCTV cameras on public streets.
“Part of the solution is to increase police presence. It’s proven to slow down crime,” Machial said.
Crime fighter Michael Guthrie: “It’s getting worse, it’s getting more violent.”
The last time owners of property in the Town of Oliver’s industrial park came before council with the same complaints: a security company was hired for at least one month. Not one criminal was spotted or one call to police or any arrests made.