A downtown shop owner is wondering if her broken storefront window was an act of senseless vandalism or LGBTQ+ backlash.
At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday one of the big front windows at Junktiques, at 5101 50th Ave., was smashed.
Vicki Finlay, owner of Junktiques, said sensors in the window set off an alarm but no one tried to get into her store through the broken window.
“This was malicious. Who does something like that at 6:30 in the morning?” Finlay said.
Finlay, who was recently vocal about supporting the LGBTQ+ community, said a poster advertising PRIDE merchandise had been hanging in that window for more than a month that may have triggered the vandalism.
“If that’s the case, it’s not going to stop me from having PRIDE merchandise in my store,” Finlay said.
She said her security cameras show the window being broken. Someone went by fast on the sidewalk, likely on a bike, with something maybe like a bat.
“Whatever it was, they took it with them. It would have had to be something very substantial to bust this window that is very thick.”
In the winter another window at the store was broken when someone who was angry threw a metal garbage can lid trying to get the attention of a resident living above the store.
She said vandalism is a big expense for an owner of a small business.
“This is $500 out of my pocket today for nothing. That’s the thing that really annoys me. If I have too many broken windows . . .”
Finlay said downtown crime has gotten worse over the last two years since her store, formerly called Joshua Tree, opened.
Red Deer RCMP Insp. Gerald Grobmeier said police everywhere find that crime generally spikes in the summer when more people are outdoors, and was not aware of any LGBTQ+-related crime.
The city recently approved funding for 10 additional police officers and four of them will be part of a new downtown police unit to address downtown issues.
“It is a priority for us and we will get that unit up and running as fast as we can. By the end of summer we’d like to at least get it started,” Grobmeier said.
He said more than a year ago a downtown enforcement strategy was implemented to pull officers in from other units for foot patrols, and since the beginning of the year crime has been trending down in the downtown.
He encouraged people in the downtown to continue to alert police about any crime.
“The data we gather really goes a long way in where and how we deploy our resources. Regardless of how insignificant they think it might be, it can be very important to us.”