A break-in and theft at a local restaurant has its owner calling for change amid feeling frustrated and doubtful there will be any consequences for those responsible.
Jamaican Kitchen was vandalized overnight Sunday to Monday (May 10), with management discovering the damage just after 6 a.m. on Monday. The restaurant at Tranquille Road and Yew Street in North Kamloops had its glass front door smashed and the burglars made off with a safe, cash pan and liquor.
Kamloops RCMP confirmed it received a report at about 6:15 a.m. on Monday of a break and enter and theft in the 400-block of Tranquille Road.
Restaurant co-owner Denses Metsimela estimated the restaurant is out $3,000 between the cash and booze that was stolen, along with having to repair the door and replace the safe.
After police attended and took a report, Metsimela said her husband questioned people hanging out in the alley behind Jamaican Kitchen who were drinking a brand of beer sold exclusively at the restaurant.
Metsimela said the group described a man who had come by and sold it to them, providing a name and location where he resides. The restaurateurs tried calling the RCMP, hoping police could interview the tipsters, but had to leave a pair of voicemails.
With no reply as of Tuesday morning, Metsimela visited the investigating officer at the North Shore community policing station with the update, but came out of the meeting not confident police will be able to make headway.
She said the officer expressed frustration with police not being able to do as much as they wish they could, noting before an interview, a person of interest must be informed by police that they are not obliged to speak, which usually makes suspects less than forthcoming.
She said she was also told such files are often thrown out of court by the Crown or judges.
“If the police can’t help, then I don’t know who is supposed to help us,” Metsimela said. “It’s extremely frustrating. What I get from it is there’s nothing they can do to help me.”
Metsimela said her restaurant has a security camera system, but it didn’t record the break-in.
Aside from this theft and another recent burglary of a tablet computer, Metsimela said her restaurant has only been targeted one other time, about eight months ago when someone broke a window, but she has heard of other businesses that have been vandalized. She said sometimes staff will find drug paraphernalia on the restaurant patio or in the flower pots, adding there are many suspect people who hang out in the back alleys and along the Tranquille Corridor.
Metsimela wishes more could be done to address street issues and that there were more consequences for people who vandalize property, noting many businesses along the route are family-run and not large corporations.
“There needs to be a balance between those who need help and making sure we who pay our taxes and do what we’re supposed to do aren’t victimized — and if we are, there should be consequences,” Metsimela said.
Jeremy Heighton, executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association, said the Jamaican Kitchen incident is one in a series of similar occurrences across Kamloops.
“What we’re seeing is there are people in our community who willingly engage in criminal activity and the way the judiciary currently functions, there is little to no consequence for those activities,” Heighton said.
He said the judiciary needs to be responsible to the community it serves and make adjustments when crimes spike.
The NSBIA, he said, is currently advocating for a review of judicial accountability and is in discussions with the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce about making policy recommendations to all levels of government, depending on which is best suited to act.
Heighton said there are holes in the system the NSBIA hopes to identify with its partner organizations to determine how it can make recommendations for change. He said the Criminal Code of Canada tends to favour the individual over the community, which can pose challenges, and the Mental Health Act can prohibit people in need of treatment from receiving it, when they don’t know they need it, because of their individual freedoms.
Heighton said the NSBIA, of which Jamaican Kitchen is a member, is also working with the City of Kamloops community services department and the RCMP on a crime prevention through environmental design plan for businesses along the Tranquille Corridor.