Downtown Vernon business owner fed up with crime shuttering skateboard shop - InfoNews

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Downtown Vernon business owner fed up with crime shuttering skateboard shop

Steven Wach, the owner of Okanagan Skate Co., is pictured in a photo from Facebook. He says ongoing crime has made it too costly to continue to do business in Vernon's downtown.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Okanagan Skate Co.
December 19, 2019 - 12:07 PM

A downtown Vernon business owner is closing his brick and mortar store and moving to an online business as he searches for a new location.

Okanagan Skate Co. owner Steven Wach said he and several other downtown businesses have been plagued by break-ins, robberies and other criminal activity.

Wach posted a video on Facebook about his ordeal telling his customers that they’ll have to shop online while he looks for yet another location. This the third location he’s run his business out of in the downtown area.

Over the last five years, he’s had three break-ins, four broken windows, his tires slashed and other unsettling incidents.

Wach said he has lost around $40,000 over the five years due to replacing lost and stolen goods, and replacing items insurance doesn’t cover and for plywood to put over broken windows.

“I have two children under five and it’s just not a safe and secure environment and it’s getting worse and worse, and unfortunately the RCMP and the City of Vernon aren’t doing anything to help,” Wach said in a phone interview with iNFOnews.

An intoxicated person he’s had issues with in the past interrupted the interview.

“I’m talking to the news, and if you’re intoxicated you have to leave the store. I’m not going to put up with you shopping in here drunk anymore,” he told the person.

“You’ve come in here wasted the last three times you were in here and you gave me a bunch of crap… you’re very aggressive with me, and I’m not going to stand for it in my store. I’m being direct and forward because I don’t have any time to piss around. I’m upset and I’m frustrated and I’m not putting up with it.”

Wach said several other downtown businesses have been plagued by crime.

“Downtown is getting worse, not better. My chiropractor, less than half a block from over here, has been broken into for its petty cash,” he said in the video posted to Okanagan Skate Co.'s Facebook page. “The children’s consignment stores two blocks this way has been broken into… the last time my store was broken into, a police officer just simply handed me a card and said, ‘Let me know if you have video footage,' he didn’t even step foot inside the store.”

Wach says other businesses are leaving downtown.

“People are not coming downtown this Christmas because they’re scared… I can tell you from experience things are bad, and they’re getting worse,” he said in his video post. “How can anybody stay downtown and economically do business when these are the kinds of things that are happening?”

Credit: FACEBOOK / Okanagan Skate Co.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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