Abid Atrchi, owner Applepress on the Trans Canada Highway in Duncan, wants something done about the ongoing crime in the area after having his window smashed out last weekend. (Abid Atrchi photo))

Duncan business owner frustrated with “catch-and-release” approach to crime

Manhole cover tossed through window, the fourth time in three years his shop has been targeted

Adib Atrchi is getting more frustrated by the day.

Atrchi is the owner of the Applepress printing shop, located at 430 Trans Canada Highway in Duncan, and was recently the victim of yet another property crime at his location.

At 8 a.m. on June 19, in broad daylight with shoppers close by in the area, a young man pried up a manhole cover from an adjacent parking lot, put it over his head and threw it through the shop window at Applepress, and then just walked away.

Atrchi said the RCMP picked the man up about 20 minutes later, but released him soon afterwards and now he’s back in the neighbourhood harassing other stores and their owners.

“This guy has a history of doing these sorts of things but yet the police seem to have some sort of ‘catch and release’ program for people like this,” he said.

“This is a family business that has been at this location since 1992, but the security situation around here is getting worse every day. This is the fourth time in three years that we’ve been broken into and we’ve had about $10,000 in material stolen, plus we’ve had to replace the window after every break in at a cost of about $1,000 each time.”

RELATED STORY: CRIME IN CROSSHAIRS IN DUNCAN’S TCH CORRIDOR

In 2019, the City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes decided to work together, in collaboration with community stakeholders, including the Cowichan Valley School District, health and social service providers, RCMP, local businesses and many others, to implement a Safer Community Plan to address crime and public disorder in the area of the TCH where Applepress is located.

With investments from the partners, the Safer Community Plan involves increased enforcement presence along the highway corridor, including daytime patrols conducted by RCMP, Blackbird Security, and bylaw enforcement.

RELATED STORY: N. COWICHAN BUDGETS $10K FOR ‘DUNCAN STRIP’ CRIME STRATEGY

But Atrchi said the problems continue, despite the efforts to contain them.

“I’m considering putting bars or a safety screen up on my windows, but it will make my shop feel like a prison,” he said.

“I’m also concerned that my business, as well as others in the area, will suffer as more people are afraid to come around here due to all the crime and will shop online. Enough is enough. Where are my rights as a taxpayer in this community?”

Island District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau confirmed that the man suspected of breaking Atrchi’s window was arrested and charges of two counts of mischief and one count of breach of conditions are being recommended to the Crown.

Manseau said the suspect was then released on condition as the Crown determines if the charges meet the criteria.

“I understand the store owner wanted the suspect held in custody, but that’s not the way the legal system works,” Manseau said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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