Saanich police say nine people were arrested around Regina Park tent city on Wednesday and Thursday as officers investigated reports of shoplifting in the area.
According to Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Jereme Leslie, over the last several weeks, police have received reports of a large amount of thefts at businesses in the area near the Regina Park encampment. Police then had an enhanced presence in the area.
Between July 11 and 12, police then assigned plainclothes officers to the local businesses. Over the two days, nine people were arrested. Police said eight were known to be from Regina Park. During one of the arrests, officers found a District of Saanich’s Notice of Eviction with one of the suspects.
Police said electronics, clothing, chocolate bars, sunglasses and batteries were stolen over the two days and most of been recovered. The people who were arrested for shoplifting where also arrested for breaching conditions, mischief and resisting arrest. One person also had a warrant.
“We understand that some people, and businesses, are still not contacting police about criminal activity or suspicious activity,” said Leslie. “This could be for a variety of reasons however one thing that we’re hearing repeatedly is that they don’t want to bother the police, or what can the police do about it anyway. We want people to know that we’re here to keep them safe, prevent crime from happening and solve crime. If we don’t know about issues that are happening then it’s difficult to allocate our officers appropriately.”
Saanich police said they will continue with regular patrol and focused enforcement duties in and around Regina Park tent city.
Occupants of the tent city have been served cease occupation notices. The district said its overnight camping bylaws have been amended and residents of the tent city can only set up tents between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. The notice states residents are not allowed to store their belongings in the park.