Advocates blame sophisticated stealing spree on city’s lack of police funding

WatchAlmost two dozen sophisticated robberies in a span of one month have Victoria businesses picking up the pieces. Kori Sidaway has more.

For Victoria’s Violette Boutique, a local shop showcasing Canadian-made jewelry, 2021 was supposed to bring hope.

“Going into a new year we had a lot of big things planned,” co-owner Erin Sabiston told CHEK News.

But just four days into the new year, that optimism was shattered.

“This is where they came in and smashed the glass,” pointed out Sabiston to their shop’s back door.

Monday night, thieves broke in, stealing $5,000 in jewelry, smashing multiple custom glass jewelry cases.

For the mother-daughter duo who co-own the space and just navigated big changes amid this pandemic, it’s devastating.

This [store] is everything to us. It’s how I feed my family,” said an emotional Sabiston.

“I also support the livelihood of four other women who work here. It feels it’s very very personal.”

And they’re not alone. The Victoria Police Department says this is the latest in a sophisticated stealing spree happening across the region.

“They’re actually removing glass from doors and windows. That requires specialized tools and knowledge to do,” said Bowen Osoko, spokesperson for Victoria Police.

“This is sophisticated enough, that it appears in some files, alarms systems have been defeated by this mode of entry.”

Police say there have been almost two dozen robberies like this in the past month.

They believe they’re all connected.

“It’s possible it’s someone working in that field installing glass…or it’s someone who may have learned to make tools and frankly these skills through other people that may have used those skills for ill-gotten gains in the past,” said Osoko.

Police are suggesting all shops in Victoria remove their goods from sightlines at night, take all cash off the premises, and to make sure they have working alarms and surveillance video.

But the downtown business association doesn’t believe the burden, should be on the shop owners.

“9-5 is very safe downtown. But these businesses are currently hiring their own security to protect their businesses at night when they already pay 3.5 times the residential tax rate,” said Jeff Bray of the Downtown Business Association.

“It is time for the city to recognize they need to properly fund police resources in order to provide for public safety.”

Meanwhile, Violette Boutique’s bright plans for 2021 have been pushed back, but are ready to move past this shaky start to 2021.

Erin Sabiston, co-owner of Violette Boutique, says the recent theft of $5,000 in jewelry is crushing. (CHEK News)

A Violette Boutique employee points to where thieves broke into their store, stealing $5,000 in jewelry. (CHEK News)

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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