Nanaimo business owner calling for joint effort against crime

Nanaimo business owner calling for joint effort against crime
WatchRecent break-in at downtown music store leads to meeting among Nanaimo business owners and residents

A Nanaimo business owner wants to join forces with others in the business community to combat crime and drug-related problems.

It comes after the most recent break-in at a downtown music store.

On Thursday night, thieves broke into Fascinating Rythym and stole two guitars and the contents of a donation box.

“Frustration, not so much anger, but I’m not sure what all to do except of course, make it more difficult [for it] to occur again,” said Steve Lebitshnig, the store’s owner.

Lebitshnig has fortified his back door and he will be adding bars to the front window and better surveillance equipment.

Two doors down, at the end of August, thieves also hit Cayo Fashions.

It’s the first time in the stores eight years there’s been a break-in.

“A little violated, unsettled just because someone was casing the place in my opinion,” said Erin Wagenaar, the store’s owner.

They’re among a number of businesses that are feeling the impact of Nanaimo’s surging crime rate.

In the first six months of the year, Nanaimo RCMP reported criminal files were up by six per cent.

At Dolly’s Gym, clients are being scared away.

“I’ve had nine members leave as of September because of what’s happening. It’s really sad you know. This is my livelihood. This is my life,” said owner Dolly Skailes.

Staff have started walking female members to their cars if desired but it that doesn’t address the underlying problem. She says people have defecated near the business, left needles and sometimes harassed members.

The gym’s owner has organized a meeting this Sunday for business owners who share similar concerns

“We’re all struggling to make ends meet because of this epidemic. It’s like a zombie apocalypse out there and nobody seems to want to do anything about it so it’s time I think, we as a community, get together and do something about it,” said Skailes.

It’s a call to mobilize. Already a team called the Van Isle Clean Team is roaming the streets, acting as an extra set of eyes to combat theft and lawlessness.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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