A South Surrey father of three is warning residents of an increase in crime in his neighbourhood, after alerting police to a suspected package thief.
Mark Marynick said Wednesday that he was watching the Olympics with his kids on Tuesday afternoon (July 27) when he saw a woman walk by with an armful of packages from Amazon. After heading north on King George Boulevard from 20 Avenue, she was seen heading into a room at a nearby motel.
Police attended, and were seen shortly after detaining a woman matching the suspect’s description, he said.
“The female suspect was found in possession of packages allegedly stolen from a nearby location,” a Surrey RCMP spokesperson confirmed. “No charges have been laid yet.”
Marynick said the incident is not the first of concern that he’s witnessed in recent months, and he’s not the only one reporting concerns.
Police confirm another area resident has called them at least six times over the past year to report suspicious individuals, including a few “involving people in the area of no fixed address.”
In light of that, members of the detachment’s Community Response Unit will be advised, the spokesperson said, noting those officers “handle neighbourhood concerns such as these and work with our Community Programs teams for Block Watch etc.”
One woman, who asked to not be identified for safety reasons, told Peace Arch News crime has been escalating in the area “probably for over a year.”
It has been “totally insane around here,” she said.
The woman said she’s had people knocking on her door looking for drugs, and has found hypodermic needles as well as stolen items discarded on her property. One day, she called police because there was a couple having sex in middle of one of the commercial parking lots.
“It’s over the top and something needs to be done about it,” the woman said.
“We do not feel safe.”
Residents who voiced concerns both to PAN and on the White Rock/South Surrey Community Group Facebook page say incidents have been on the rise in particular since programs to assist in mitigating COVID in close-proximity transitional and shelter housing by providing funding to rent or lease hotel rooms and other space in the interim was made available.
Grandview Inn owner Bob Dharni told PAN Thursday (July 29) that he had an arrangement for the past five or six months, as part of the shelter efforts, with a Surrey non-profit organization that supports vulnerable individuals. Many other hotels are doing the same, he said, naming other Surrey sites as well as some in Langley as example.
“They were getting people from the street to give them shelter,” Dharni said.
Dharni said while sometimes the individuals housed at his site were “noisy for sure,” and can have “behaviour (that) is hard to control,” the goal was to help.
“As a community, we had to,” he said.
“People don’t know what’s the story behind the scenes,” Dharni continued. “City staff, they all know what’s the situation, why they are here.
“And now, probably, these people, due to this pressure and all those things, they’re not going have shelter any more.
“Today, that funding is over.”
Officials with the non-profit that Dharni worked with declined to comment.
Another resident concerned by the increase in crime that he has noticed near 16 Avenue and 160 Street, including vehicle break-ins and open use of drugs, said he had a meeting with MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay Friday afternoon (July 30) to discuss solutions.
The resident, who also didn’t want to be identified for safety reasons, said he has called police “many times” to report problems. He said he’s had people cut through his chainlink fence and use his yard as a washroom, and said his wife is even fearful to walk to a nearby convenience store.
Another part of the problem, he noted, is that houses on properties slated for development are left vacant for months at a time, attracting squatters.
While some neighbours have considered moving, the man said he plans to stand his ground.
“I’m not letting them push me out,” he said.
Among comments on the White Rock/South Surrey Community Group Facebook page were calls for immediate-access treatment centres for mental health issues and drug addiction.
Guilhem Hérisson encouraged calmer minds: “I don’t think we have a crime problem, I don’t think this place is unsafe and I think some people need to try harder not to live in fear,” he writes.
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