The Mayor for Ritchot says there is growing concern about the amount of theft happening at local businesses.
Chris Ewen says there seems to be an increase in the number of break-and-enters, noting this is becoming devastating for business owners. Ewen says those being targeted appear to be ones that sell items that can be easily moved to another province to be sold. These places could be automotive centres, those involved in powersports or businesses selling enclosed trailers.
Ewen says his concern first and foremost is the safety of his residents and businesses, noting the danger of a business being broken into while an employee is still at work. Having said that, Ewen says the financial impacts are also jarring. He notes some business owners are noting that their insurance premiums have increased so greatly that it almost makes more sense financially not to have insurance.
"Which sounds terrible," says Ewen. "Their deductibles are becoming higher and higher because it's happening more frequently throughout the municipality."
As a result of all the theft, Ewen says there are some business owners who are contemplating closing their doors or perhaps relocating to a different area of the province. Ewen says Ritchot is a business-friendly municipality, and he would hate to see them lose any business due to crime. Having said that, he notes this is not a problem that is unique to Ritchot.
"I know this is happening everywhere," says Ewen. "My callout is to other municipalities, reach out to me as Mayor for Ritchot and let's start working together to push these criminals away. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make sure my residents and my businesses continue to stay safe and feel like they can still work and operate in Ritchot."
Ewen says maybe the protection of businesses is something that needs to be addressed by the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, or maybe it is a call for more RCMP help, or perhaps this is an example of Manitoba Justice needing to act more quickly.
Ewen says he wants to work with business owners and is willing to push both sides of government on the matter. He is also willing to work with police agencies and security companies to figure out a solution so that businesses do not need to close their doors.
"Because if I see a door close because of criminal activity, that's a major concern and I'm not doing enough as Mayor to make sure that this stops," he adds.
On Tuesday morning, Ritchot Council met with St. Pierre RCMP. Ewen says he let the officers know that his businesses are frustrated with all of the crime and that steps need to be taken to put an end to this. He notes the officers were very responsive. Ewen says RCMP would like to continue the conversation and come up with ways to combat this problem, whether it is through increased security cameras or patrols.
To the business owners in Ritchot, Ewen asks for them to remain diligent and continue doing what they are doing to keep their shops secure. He encourages business owners to report these break-ins to RCMP but also to notify him as Mayor so that he can lobby for a solution.
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