Tag Archives: Vancouver crime

Drugs, Thugs and Hugs

Vancouver is starting a community court as an attempt to stop filling up the court system with repeat criminals who happen to be drug addicts and stuck in the perpetual cycle of addiction>money>crime>drugs>addiction.

There are several stats that contribute to trying something new. I’ve always contended that our criminal justice system is broken. The Downtown Eastside is considered the poorest postal code in Canada, as well as having the worst and largest number of addicts. Vancouver suffers from a high number of crimes ranging from car to house break-ins. Many of these can be contributed to addicts looking for that fix and needing money. So in their jittery, drug addled state, they trash cars, or steal purses and backpacks or invade homes.

I’m not speaking speculatively but as someone who has been a victim of these crimes. I’m not particularly rich, don’t drive an expensive car and don’t live in a ritzy neighborhood. That doesn’t matter in Vancouver. When I had a Honda Civic (the most stolen car in BC at the time) it was broken into sixteen times. Licence plate, registration, sunglasses, ashtray w/coins, first aid kit, half a tire jack, gear shift knob, cassette tapes, etc. were taken. Some can be contributed to kids and car thieves (gear shift knob, licence) but the ease of getting into a Honda was well known.

Although the break-ins happened all over the city, the majority happened where I live in East Vancouver. My next door neighbor, who at one point had a nice heritage house, became an addict. We had no proof that he was the perpetrator but the crime rate on our street was very high while he could still pay the mortgage on his place. My apartment (part of a heritage house) was broken into when I was away but my landlords were watching it and at home that night. We’re pretty sure it was the drug addict neighbor who even seemed to be paying a couple of teenagers to scout out places.

Twice more my place has been invaded. The second time I was actually home and someone walked into my back door (facing into the back yard) and took my purse. I suspect it was my no longer homeowner neighbor who had lost his house to drugs. The last time was last year when some other addict crowbarred my French patio doors and stole my camera.

This happens time and time again in Vancouver and although some criminals are of a higher organization, most of these crimes are caused by drug addictions, homelessness and sometime mental health concerns. Locking up these petty criminals for a short time doesn’t solve the problem overall. Most get very minimal sentences and are back time and again in the courts.

The community court (that some are labelling Hugs for Thugs) is to deal quickly with the criminals, where they meet with a triage team of counsellors and/or social workers. They’re sentenced to varying degrees, where community work or reparation is included, and sometimes jail time. This court has just begun and has been successful in other geographic areas. It’s the first in Canada and hopefully, along with the safe-injection site, will help keep the crime down and maybe, just maybe get people off drugs and off the street.

We’ll need affordable housing, which there is a lack of for even people who are poor and not yet homeless, as well as those on drugs or suffering from mental health issues. But I wonder how it will work if the addicts don’t want to change. And I know, after talking to someone who was a police officer for 25 years, that those on crystal meth will be the hardest to reform. Crystal meth literally eats the brain, making those addicts the most violent and least likely to be able to get off the drug. They usually have a five-year lifespan from when they get addicted.

But considering the rampant crime and the ineffective court system for this problem, I’m willing to hope this could be a win-win situation, with everyone suffering less from crime and people getting off the street and off drugs.

The official community court, justice reform site: http://www.criminaljusticereform.gov.bc.ca/en/justice_reform_projects/community_court/index.html

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Perverts of the Past

There are hazards to being a woman, where you can be subjected to certain…displays. I’ve lived in Vancouver for quite a few years and in the West End, around Main and Cambie, and in East Vancouver. I’ve never lived in scary areas but in your normal range of dwellings; not upscale but still nice areas with families or many people. I’ve never lived near an area notorious for drugs and other criminal activities.

Still, in the course of just being a person I’ve seen my share of wankers. The most innocuous was the guy standing below the Burrard St. bridge in white socks and runners and nothing else. He looked up at the people walking over the bridge and played with himself. I found it hilarious and ludicrous.

Unfortunately the other incidents were closer. I was on a bus one day around 6 pm. I sat near the middle of the bus, on a seat beside someone, not even looking as I put my money away. The bus was full of people. I realized there was a rhythmic hand movement coming from the guy beside me. I got up and moved toward the front of the bus, disconcerted. In those days I was a little too timid to say anything. But an elderly man standing beside me said, do you know what that man was doing? I said I suspected and that’s why I stood. The guy got off at the next stop (no pun intended).

After that I moved to E. Van and into a ground floor suite. I asked my landlord for curtain rods (my landlords live above me) but he said, what do you need curtain rods for? Their main floor doesn’t have curtains on any of the back windows where kitchen, dining room and living room are. Their bedroom is on the top floor. So I had to tack up a scarf over the bathroom window and likewise for the bedroom. Murray didn’t seem to get that we lived right at the level where people can walk by the window.

My partner was working late at his studio that night. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, when I heard a tapping at the window. I thought my partner had forgotten his key. I pulled back the thin (it turns out, see-through) curtain and there was this guy illumined by the security light, his face turned away so I couldn’t see it, and he was wanking away and moaning.

The shock at such a sight up close is part fright at one’s privacy being breached. This guy could see me and knew which room I was in. I ran to the other room.  The pervert followed until he saw me calling the police. Then he scampered off. The police eventually showed up about a half hour later. At that point in time they were pretty lackadaisical. Shortly after there was someone going around beating women with a baseball bat and raping them. Any calls after that point, and the police showed up immediately. Oh, and yes, the next day I had curtain rods on the bedroom and bathroom windows.

The next time a wanker showed up at my place was after I broke up with a manipulative, arrogant guy I had been dating. He’d turned stalker for about a week or two after our break-up before I reamed him out. A month or so later I was working at my computer one night when I realized every light was on. So I walked from my den, down the hall toward the living room, turning out the extra lights. Outside my French patio doors and the small patio, standing up on the retaining wall, was a guy wanking off.

I ducked into the bathroom but had to pop out to call the police. I did so and they arrived quickly with dogs but the guy was long gone. Shortly after this my landlord put blinds up on my patio doors and more security lighting, and a taller (6′) picket fence in the back. A week or two later the ex-boyfriend wanted my opinion on a piece of his art. Being too nice I agreed to meet for a coffee. When he asked how I was, I said fine but there’d been a wanker at my place, not at all suspecting him. He blurted out, “It wasn’t me!” And that’s when I knew in fact it was him. I’ve never talked to him since.

The third time, in this same place, I again was getting ready for bed and when I closed the curtain in my bedroom I noticed the bushes move. So I snuck to my den next door, in the dark and peered out of one tiny corner of the curtained window…as this guy was trying to peer in the opposite corner, his hood pulled up around his face. This one scared me the most because I knew he’d been watching me for a while and he wasn’t just wanking off.

I called the police in the dark, knowing where the numbers were on the phone. They were coming with dogs but one of the police drove on the street first and the creep ran. Into the back yard…where there is no alley…toward the 6′ sharp, picket fence…with his bike. He made it over and was gone but his bike remained behind on the pickets. The police were amused and figured the guy might have injured himself. I was badly shaken and dreamt of being raped for a couple of nights.

The last time was a couple of years ago, during a bright sunny day. I was home and heard someone knock on the door upstairs. I peered out my window. If it’s the postman I’ll take packages for my landlords sometime. It wasn’t but the guy saw me. I don’t tend to answer the door to solicitors or strangers. Well this greasy haired, young guy knocked on my door. I didn’t answer and he started going around the house, knocking on every window and door, prying at some of them.

I grabbed my phone and sat below my door. It has a small glass window in it. The guy couldn’t see me at that angle but I could see his reflection in my bookcase doors that faced the doors. Out of sight, I sat and waited as the guy circled the house. Then he came back to the door and started ramming his shoulder against it. I didn’t wait to see if he would break in but called the police. He heard the beep of my phone and said, “I was looking for this girl I know. She lives around here. I thought this was her place.”

And all I could think was that if the girl gave a different address, there was good reason if this is what he did. The police came but as it is in all cases, they can’t do anything until the person actually hurts you or breaks in. I asked if I could charge hin with trespassing but they said no. The guy was gone anyways but in essence he could wank off, terrorize people and trespass on their property and get away with it.

A week later I the same greasy creep enter someone’s house across the street. The door was open on a hot day and he just waltzed in. The guy that tossed him out nearly broke the railing but didn’t hit this pervert. I was on my way to meet someone so I called the police as I walked up the street. All I got from them was a reaming out for not staying there. I’m sure nothing was done.

Since then, it’s only been someone breaking in to my place once and my car six months later. And I bet I fit into the average here. Ah, Vancouver, civilized and trendy city. Even wankers love it.

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