This article has been updated with comment from the Ladysmith RCMP
Multiple businesses in downtown Ladysmith suffered attempted break-ins on the week of March 23 to March 27.
Antique Mall was the only downtown business that was broken into. The break-in ocurred on March 25 at 3:50 am. A number of antique watches were stolen. The theft is currently under invesitgation by the Ladysmith RCMP.
Janine Peters of Forget Me Not caught a pair of potential thieves on video, posing in front of her store and taking photographs.
“This happened about 9:30 in the evening. We’ve been doing middle of the night drive-bys. We’re seeing young people in small groups. I don’t know if they’re involved in anything, but that’s about all that’s going on,” Peters said.
Peters is juggling the stress caused by COVID-19 on her business, and this has added another layer of stress.
“We’re all trying to keep our spirits up. We’re all hoping this doesn’t go on for too much longer. Knowing that this is a possibility on top of everything is even more stressful.”
Black Door Decor also suffered an attempted break-in. Owner, Collette Hamilton came to her store in the morning to find her front door was damaged by a crowbar.
“They tried to pry the door open. You could see the indents,” Hamilton said. “It bent the metal, as well as indented and scraped the wood.”
Hamilton’s landlord, Dunsmuir Investments, repaired the damage free of charge. She said she feels fortunate that the break-in attempt wasn’t successful.
“In 14 years, this is the first time it’s happened,” Hamilton said. “Hopefully it won’t happen again.”
The Ladysmith Historical Society also suffered a theft at their First Aid shed by the Machine Shop. A television and USB hub were stolen, and the shed was left a mess.
The Ladysmith Downtown Business Association wrote a letter to the Town of Ladysmith requesting increased security for the downtown core while businesses are closed due to COVID-19.
“The LDBA is requesting additional visibility of law enforcement in the downtown core, and ask if there is an opportunity through provincial funding to allocate these needed resources,” the letter stated.
At the March 31 Special Council Meeting, Town Council resolved to further engage with the LDBA on measures to reduce crime in the downtown core. The Town does not have a budget for downtown security, however the RCMP has agreed to increase their presence in the area.
“I’m supportive of continuing to work with our regional partners, and having our staff engage with the Downtown Business Association to come up with solutions,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.
Council stressed the need for more information from the RCMP about where and when crimes were being committed before allocating funds to increased security measures in town.
Ladysmith RCMP staff sergeant, Kevin Day said that there is no reason to believe the break-ins are linked, but the RCMP is not ruling that out.
“Members are gathering as much information as possible at this time. If we feel at some point we can put something out to the public in regards to a suspect we will do so,” Day said.
Day said the RCMP has seen some attempted break-ins lately due to businesses being closed, however he made clear that there is not enough information to suggest an increase in property crime due to COVID-19 closures.
“We’re stepping up our patrols around businesses because we know there are some businesses closed due to COVID.”