A Vancouver restaurant is yet another example of the challenges small businesses are facing when it comes to break-ins and vandalism in the city.
Since opening just over a year ago, Zarak by Afghan Kitchen in Mount Pleasant has been targeted more than four times.
The latest incident happened early Wednesday. Surveillance cameras captured the thief jimmying the lock on the front door at 3 a.m., then yanking the cash register out of the wall and taking off.
“He checks out the neighbourhood, makes sure nobody’s around, he’s in and out in 30 seconds, grabs the cash register,” said co-owner Hassib Sarwari after the restaurant posted the video to social media.
Back in June, someone walked in and held up restaurant staff during the height of the brunch rush.
“That was really scary actually. A gentleman walking in, saying, ‘Give me all your money.’ And he went as far as saying, ‘I’m going to kill you guys if I don’t give you the money.’ And we had a full restaurant.”
Vancouver police say they are aware of both incidents and acknowledge similar break-in and vandalism sprees are impacting already-struggling businesses in and around the downtown core.
“It’s definitely an ongoing problem. It’s something we’re seeing all around the city. Whether it be glass breaks at store fronts, or actual break and enters,” Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said.
“We’re noticing from speaking with people in the community that they’re no longer reporting them to the police. They’re not even reporting them to their insurance companies because it’s just a burden for them. So, a lot of these small businesses are eating out of pocket.”
Sarwari agrees, saying filing a police report adds extra work to a small business owner’s already long and busy day.
Earlier this month, CityLux Boutique, a luxury clothing store, was targeted by vandals for the second time in recent months. They smashed the glass but didn’t manage to get inside. The business, however, is out thousands of dollars.
“It was really frustrating. Because I know what it entails, because it’s happened to us before,” manager Kim Nguyen told Global News at the time.
It’s a similar story at the nearby butcher shop, Sebastian and Co. The owner is frustrated by multiple break-ins and burglaries in a matter of weeks.
“It just seems like people get caught and then released, and then there’s no consequences. So mainly what I’m thinking is there’s no fear,” Sebastian Cortez said.
Sarwari says the latest incident didn’t cost them much cash, but it will likely cost them upwards of $1,000 to replace the locks, buy a new register and connect it to their system.
He doesn’t think his business is being targeted specifically, and he empathizes with those who feel the need to resort to crime, but also hopes the break ins will stop.
“We just wanted to bring awareness that it could happen to anybody at any time. We just wanted everyone to be safe and just look at their security process and procedures.”
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