Sarah Jardine, of Service Plumbing and Heating, is “frustrated” by the lack of accountability around property crimes, and the costs borne by business owners. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer businesses ask where is their financial assistance in dealing with cost of crime?

Four companies were broken into on the weekend in Riverside Industrial Park

Doors were smashed and a showcase broken — mostly for a jug of water, a couple of cheap knives and a roll of postage stamps.

A series of break-ins in Riverside Light Industrial Park last weekend left some business owners questioning who’s going to help them cover their out-of-pocket damages caused by crime?

It’s “frustrating” that people who abuse drugs can get free help but their victims are left to pick up the deductible costs of the resulting vandalism and break-ins, said Sarah Jardine, of Service Plumbing and Heating.

The company was among four Riverside businesses that had doors and showcases broken into late Friday through early Sunday and some esoteric items stolen.

Jardine pointed out that Service Plumbing and Heating will get no help paying $400 to fix the smashed door, unlike many of the people with addictions who cause crimes yet get free food, shelter, and supplies.

But the “real kicker” is the list of missing items, said Jardine. The company lost a five-gallon jug of water, a toonie that was left on a desk, a roll of postage stamps worth about $50 and a 10-year-old lap-top computer that barely works.

“If (the perpetrators) had just asked us for most of this stuff, we’d have no problem giving it to them,” said Jardine, who doesn’t understand how all the “grief and anxiety” caused by the break-in could be worth what was taken.

A similar complaint was aired by Len Tenpas of This & That Sharpening Services. Somebody used a rock to smash into his business, then shattered a glass display case — all to steal two knives that were barely worth $25 each.

Now Tenpas, who’s experienced many previous break-ins and thefts, is looking at installing $6,000 shutters to keep criminals out. He asks, “Who’s going to help me pay for that?”

Nearby, at Independent Control Services on Riverside Drive, two lap-tops were stolen on the weekend and owner Shaun Planaden is left assessing the cost of installing cameras.

He saw two derelict men trying to break into vehicles in the area two weeks ago, and believes this demographic is likely to blame for the latest break-ins.

But Tenpas, a former peace officer, makes a distinction between homeless people who mind their own business and choose to live outdoors and the down-and-out people who resort to crime, whether because of addictions or other factors — which he believes includes laziness.

Tenpas said he offered one panhandler $100 for two hours of work and in return was sworn at.

Like Jardine, he feels that down-and-outers are coddled by agencies that are trying to assist but are actually enabling a destructive lifestyle. “If don’t want their help (to get off drugs), their other choice should be jail.”

Planaden believes the upsurge in crime “is definitely frustrating… You hear about it more and more, and you never think it will happen to you — and then it does.”

Some Riverside business owners blame rough sleepers in the bush either along the Red Deer River or an abandoned rail line between the industrial park and Parkland Mall. Such camp have been routinely cleaned up by parks works and peace officers and then restarted.

Shawn Moore, of Trim-line and Ecotree, wasn’t affected by the latest break-ins but has been hit by crime more than a half-dozen previous times.

The status quo is clearly not working said Moore. Having hauled 28 propane tanks from the wooded area around the rough sleeper camp, he feels its only a matter of time before a fire or explosion happens.

He proposes running a woodworking program, similar to one he operates at Central Middle School, for disaffected youths who are at risk of turning to drugs or crime. Moore said a meeting is being arranged with some provincial ministers.

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