Kamloops locksmith calls for urgent action to fight break-in spree | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

Kamloops locksmith calls for urgent action to fight break-in spree

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Ray Dhaliwal has been in the locksmith business for 38 years in Kamloops and says break-ins have never been worse than right now.

“I’ve seen the ups and downs in Kamloops, as well as the crime, increasing and decreasing. Back in the day, you’d maybe get two or three months in the fall that’s busy for crime, but over the past five, six, seven years it’s been rampant. There’s something every day now where someone gets broken into,” Dhaliwal says. 

“There is a crime spree going on out here... I know some people have said this is just going on because of the pandemic, but no, this everyday stuff has been going on for probably well over a year now.”

Dhaliwal, a former Kamloops city councillor, says each month as a locksmith he attends anywhere from 20 to 40 break-ins. Although he doesn’t believe it has increased because of the pandemic, the thieves have become more brazen when they strike. He says early evening break-ins are increasing and notes he attended a call on Easter Monday at noon.

He’s taken to social media to bring attention to the issue.

“I just had enough on Sunday morning when I was woken up at six in the morning to go to a job when I had just gotten home at 11 o’clock the night before. I thought this is bad, this is ridiculous, and somebody has to start the conversation,” Dhaliwal says. “I don’t know what the answer is yet.”

He says thieves adapt their practices and have learned how to break into buildings that may have relatively new protective systems, and he has had to invest in newer, more thief-resistant hardware.

New locks and protective equipment range between $250 to $600 depending on the location, and security systems can cost upward of $2,000.

“Business owners are frustrated, they don’t know what to do. It’s very depressing for them, the stock that they lose, and not just the stock, it's the cost of repairing the doors, that’s an added expense for a business that they just can’t afford at this time, especially with the loss of revenue from the pandemic,” Dhaliwal says.

These are some of the new hardware items Dhaliwal has purchased to help prevent thieves from breaking locks and handles.
These are some of the new hardware items Dhaliwal has purchased to help prevent thieves from breaking locks and handles.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Ray Dhaliwal

Cpl. Jodi Shelkie of the Kamloops RCMP confirms that there has been an increase in crime, although she wasn't able to provide statistics.

"We have seen an increase in property crime. Specifically, commercial break and enters, theft from vehicles and theft of vehicles," Shelkie says in an email to iNFOnews.ca. "The commercial break and enters may be due to more businesses being closed during the pandemic and so there are fewer people working and keeping an eye on their business and the neighbourhood."

Dhaliwal notes no neighbourhood is immune, although he finds the problem is more prominent in some areas, like downtown.

Some business owners have been surprised by the suspects caught on camera.

“Everybody thinks it’s the ones on BMXs riding around with backpacks, but cameras have shown that some of these criminals are very well dressed and driving BMWs and nice trucks. It’s not the ones that you would suspect being the criminals,” he says. “These guys aren’t working on their own, it’s very very well organized.”

Regardless of who it is, Dhaliwal says something needs to be done. The former city councillor has suggested the mayor and councillors take a 20 per cent pay cut to help fund a new RCMP officer, one of many projects that were deferred during an April 21 council meeting.

“Council has a tough job right now with the loss of revenue throughout the city, but when it comes to crime right now, this is where we need to spend our money. This is where we need to have the focus. Since we cancelled Canada Day this year, we have money. It does cost a lot to put that event on… put that towards crime-fighting, put that towards the RCMP. They wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t need the help,” Dhaliwal says. “RCMP are stretched to the limit, we know that. If they have asked for another crime analysis then we should be giving that to them.”

Dhaliwal reminds business owners who may have closed down storefronts or offices to take anything they can home.

Although the break-ins are upsetting for Dhaliwal and those affected, there is one slight silver lining. Dhaliwal says when he started the business there was one locksmith and a service employee. Now he has four locksmith apprentices, two support staff, and an office manager.

“This is a recession-proof business,” he says.

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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