Kamloops restaurant owners feel targeted after 2nd break and enter in as many months | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops restaurant owners feel targeted after 2nd break and enter in as many months

Husband and wife, Kamau (right) and Denese (left) Metsimela found another glass door shattered on June 25. This follows a break-in they experienced on May 10 at their North Shore restaurant.
June 25, 2021 - 4:30 PM

Jamaican Kitchen in Kamloops's North Shore was broken into again today and and the owners are left feeling targeted.

"If police can't protect us or stop this kind of thing, who is supposed to do it then?" owner Denese Metsimela said, sitting at a table just beside front glass door they found smashed this morning, June 25.

This is the second break-in since May 11. The third in nine months, if you include an attempt which only broke one window pane out of two on the storefront.

It's the fourth crime if you include the time just three or four months ago, according to Metsimela, an iPad was stolen from the storefront while the doors were unlocked and staff were in the kitchen. The suspect's face was captured on camera, but no progress was made, to her knowledge, in that police investigation.

During the most recent break-in today the suspect left with an iPad and an empty cash box.

The restaurant was busy with customers today. People were eating, laughing and some were arguing over who was to pay their bill, but the owners of Jamaican Kitchen are fed up now that they have to foot the bill for repairs yet again.

"It's like a kick in the gut. At this point in time I'm starting to take it very personally," she said. "We're not putting any hope in the police at this point. We'll just carry on ourselves and with whatever help we get from the community."

Between Ask Wellness' Spero House and The Loop outreach centre, both just blocks away from Jamaican Kitchen, she points blame towards them and a lack of security.

"While we're compassionate people, we do think that Ask Wellness and The Loop have a hand to play in some of this. They steal stuff and they go back in the morning and get a hot meal," Metsimela said.

Damage done during the latest break-in.
Damage done during the latest break-in.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Denese Metsimela

Bob Hughes, executive director of Ask Wellness, said that for the last month, they and ARPA Investments have been funding security along the Tranquille corridor due to rising crime centralized to the area.

"It's mayhem. It highlights the fact that we're drowning in this spot," Hughes said. But he says funding security is not sustainable for Ask Wellness to maintain.

While he blames the B.C. court system for a failure in addressing criminal behaviour, Hughes would like to see a mental health court brought to Kamloops. A court that includes input from metal health and social services to address offenders with more complex needs.

"Integrated courts," as they're referred to, have been opened in three B.C. cities: Vancouver, Victoria and, most recently, Kelowna.

One was studied in in Kamloops and was scheduled to open in 2020, but there has been no official update from B.C. Courts on the progress of the proposal.

But these kind of courts have promise, Hughes said, to address the "trilogy of crimes, addiction and homelessness." 

"I'm going to keep trying to save peoples' lives in an (overdose) crisis that's getting worse - that can't stop. That is something that's non-negotiable in society," Hughes said.

Jeremy Heighton, executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association, wrote an open letter today and posted to social media in response to the Jamaican Kitchen break-in.

He said in the letter that blame lies with "catch and release policing." And added this the fault of the court system and prosecutors, not police.

"It is time for mental health reforms that both heal offenders who are unable to heal themselves, and to provide mechanisms for society to feel that mental health is not a free pass for criminality," he wrote. "It is time for leadership to be exercised by those who work on our behalf of ourselves and our communities to demand better, to lead the change that is required, to become the solution."

Kamloops RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on property crime on the North Shore, or whether strategic goals will be made to address property crime.

While the owners of Jamaican Kitchen look to repair the damage and replace stolen goods, a GoFundMe page was started for them by a community member.

Its goal is to raise enough money to help Metsimela cover the costs of the theft and damages, and possibly cover the cost of installing bars on the restaurant's doors and windows.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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