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Why are small businesses reluctant to call the police after multiple break-ins? Here’s the reason


It was not the first time that burglaries and break-ins had happened in restaurants at the plaza on Warden Avenue and Steeles Avenue East in Markham.

On Sunday morning (Nov. 22), a staff member at Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice found that the restaurant had been burgled the night before. The front door and some windows were completely destroyed, and the cash register and some small change inside were gone.

“To be honest, the damage is not that serious, and we decided to resume business as soon as possible without calling the police,” said Jude Zhu, marketing and public relations manager for the restaurant.

Many Chinese restaurants and stores in the neighbourhood have had similar experiences, Zhu recalled. “All I know is that some owners have repeatedly reported the crime to police, even councillors, after being robbed, but for some reason, the situation didn’t get any better, so people now don’t bother to call the police anymore.”

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In addition to Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice, Zhu also runs another restaurant called Yunshang Rice Noodle.

At around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 3, Yunshang Rice Noodle in Scarborough also suffered a break-in.

“Their execution of the robbery was almost the same, except that the door was broken down, (and) the suspect also took all the change from the cash register and iPads in the store,” she said.

Again, the management of the restaurant is not going to call the police.

“In the same plaza as Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice, we have another, Yunshang Rice Noodle, which was robbed last summer. At that time, we did call the police and hand in all videos from our surveillance cameras. But disappointingly, we have no idea how the case has gone so far.”

During the pandemic, all small businesses are struggling to survive. Many restaurants and stores choose to tackle the loss on their own when reporting to the police doesn’t get a quick and positive response, or even delays their business.

“We are willing to repair the door and everything at our own expense to resume operating as soon as possible. Because no business for one day means no money to pay our employees, and we have no choice,” Zhu added.

Ben Leung, vice-president of the Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan Chinese Business Association, says he is aware that many small businesses prefer not to inform the police after a crime occurs.

“It is the right thing to report a crime to the police, so they can send officers to investigate,” Leung said.

But the reality, he explains, is that it can take a long time for the police to reach the scene of the crime, and during that time, small businesses are responsible for protecting the scene, which means they cannot clean up the mess, and their operations would be affected.

“I always recommend stores to install HD cameras and turn on the lights after closing, which is a deterrent to criminals,” Leung said, adding that small business owners should put more confidence in the police and actively report crime; otherwise, they will see a rise in concealed crime.

York Regional Police believe it is unfortunate that crime has been occurring which has not been reported to police.

“It’s important that these incidents are reported, as thieves are often responsible for multiple incidents. While the investigations can take some time before the suspect(s) are caught, every incident can provide valuable evidence for an ongoing investigation,” said Sgt. Andy Pattenden.

As for some long waiting times after calling the police, Pattenden said, it was because for the majority of incidents that might occur at a business, such as a break and enter, police respond to these calls for service on a priority basis.

“Break and enters are often noticed in the early morning when employees arrive. We usually respond to these calls quite quickly and businesses are not required to remain closed. We do try and collect as much evidence as quickly as possible, as we understand the importance of a business operating.”

Pattenden emphasized the importance of reporting a crime to the police. “Whether it be a fingerprint, DNA or surveillance video, each incident may be linked to others. When the suspect is eventually caught, we can then hold them responsible for all of their crimes that have been reported.”

Agreeing with what Leung said, the YRP also strongly urge every business to invest in a good video surveillance system. These systems act as a deterrent to criminals, but if an incident does occur, then they provide important evidence for police.