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Ocean Park businesses targeted by vandals, thieves

Persistent crime targeting Ocean Park businesses has created problems for owners.

"We have, over the years, been quite concerned," said Sandy Smith, owner of Cotton 'n' Crayon and president of the community's business association.

"It's been a bit of a conundrum on who's going to handle it, basically. It's very hard to address."

Problems in the last 18 months have ranged from vandalism and graffiti to break-ins. Poor lighting and a lack of security have been cited as contributing factors.

And while a crime lull in recent months had merchants breathing somewhat easier, a spree last month has renewed concerns, Smith said this week.

"It almost seems like everybody who hasn't got bars or further deterrents, they're picking us off one by one," she said.

At least three businesses were hit Jan. 22, including one clothing store where stock that wasn't stolen had to be destroyed because of the possibility smashed glass had become embedded in it.

South Surrey RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott Campbell described the break-ins as "unsophisticated," and likely the work of culprits looking to feed an addiction.

For the most part, cost of damage exceeded the value of what was taken, Campbell said.

"Sometimes these guys steal a bag of chips or a pop… absolutely senseless," he said.

Campbell noted targeted enforcement led to the arrest of about four chronic offenders in the South Surrey last week. However, it has not been determined those arrested were responsible for the Jan. 22 break-ins.

Smith said police have been active with residents and businesses owners in developing strategies to improve security, including an increased presence of uniformed officers and presentations by Community Safety Officers.

Suggestions have ranged from not leaving valuables near windows to reporting all suspicious activity.

"Some people listen, some people don't," Smith said. "The community policing are doing as much as they possibly can, considering."

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