Crime costs everyone

It is interesting to note that after months of frustration with having to live with a drug house on their Inglewood street, when shots were fired, only one person dialed 911.

It is interesting to note that after months of frustration with having to live with a drug house on their Inglewood street, when shots were fired, only one person dialed 911.

The spectre of crime gangs infiltrating our neighbourhoods is so commonplace that people are either too afraid to speak against it anymore or are choosing to just look the other way.

We read of gang-related shootings in Vancouver so frequently, and it is repeated that drug houses exist in nearly every neighbourhood so often, that people hardly make note of it anymore. You might wonder if this is the same kind of reaction people have when they are forced to live in a war zone.

In some places, you see people with guns everywhere and you accept them as part of life, only dreading that someday someone might point a gun at you.

But here we still think of gangs, drugs and violence as things that happens outside our circle of experience. Recent events show how dangerously wrong that notion can be.

Drugs, gangs, prostitution, thefts and robberies do not just happen around us and touch us. They are woven into our society and into our economy.

The Fraser Institute recently held a forum in Calgary as a part of their Behind the Spin series. The topic was the costs of crime.

It must be difficult to tally the cost of crime in Canada, because the most recent figures the Fraser Institute (or a quick Internet search on the topic) could provide came from 1998. Even that study was vague in its conclusions, but the tally was given at between $15 billion and $30 billion a year.

For our purposes here, pinpoint accuracy isn’t needed. Let’s just compare the loss to the economy of gangs, drug houses and other crimes that stem from people needing drugs (and needing money to buy them) at the equivalent of what the federal government is spending to stimulate the economy.

Officially, Canada is committed to spending $40 billion over two years.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with that economic theory; it does matter that you recognize the drug house in your neighbourhood, or the grow-op that everyone knows is there but nobody talks about, produces a financial effect equal to the whole nation’s efforts to help you keep your job.

People who never work, drive nice vehicles, dealing out the window to working stiffs, and those transactions take money out of your pocket.

If writing down licence plates of vehicles outside of a drug house would save your career, would you report them to the police?

If customers knew the neighbours notice who comes and goes outside their houses — and can describe individuals and the vehicles they drive, it puts a chill on crime.

If knowing your neighbours enough to say hi, and care enough to call police if you think someone has broken into their garage, it is striking a blow for the real economy. Can we agree it pays to make the call?

This is our city, not theirs. It is our economy they are wrecking.

Shutting down the trade drug dealers really puts money in your pocket, equal to the cost to you and your family of the federal stimulus program.

Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.

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