A spate of recent jewelry store robberies in the Kitchener-Waterloo area in the past few months – the most recent being the Jan. 5 holdup at Conestoga Mall – has prompted Waterloo Regional Police to offer free crime-prevention sessions aimed at merchants.
The next such gathering is set for tomorrow (Sunday) at Bingemans in Kitchener.
This is the fourth information session the police service has held thus far in 2011, and they hope to make it the biggest yet. They previously had sessions at Conestoga Mall, Fairview Park and Cambridge Centre, which drew nearly 200 people. Local BIAs, the chambers of commerce, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada have thrown their support behind the initiative.
“It’s an information session that businesses can attend just to help them review their security measures or their security and safety plan for their employees,” explained Olaf Heinzel, public affairs coordinator at WRPS. “Recently we’ve had a number of jewelry store robberies that are still under investigation, so it was timely in that the attention level by the business community is higher. We saw this as an opportunity to use that higher level of awareness to run this program.”
Even Elmira has fallen victim to criminal activity of late when a quantity of Oxycontin was stolen from the Shoppers Drug Mart back on Dec. 27.
The session will be tomorrow (Sunday) from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Marshall Hall at Bingemans. Detectives and operators from the communications centre will be at the meeting to discuss what information they will require when someone dials 911 in an emergency.
“They’re going to ask where the incident is happening, when it happened, what is happening now, who is involved, describe any weapons or people, describe directions of travel, license plates, vehicle descriptions, that type of thing,” explained Sgt. Sloden Lackovic of the community resources branch of the WRPS, the detachment organizing the event.
“But the most important thing we stress is to stay on the line with the operator, because often they hang up far too quickly and we still need additional detail because that operator is directing the responding officers to the scene.”
Lackovic explained that part of the department’s mandate is to increase public awareness and education, and information sessions like this are merely one way of achieving that.
“I’m brand new to the unit – I came from a criminal investigation background – and I was looking for ways to improve the community and help lead to crime prevention.”
The sergeant also said that anyone who works for a business or company that could potentially be the target of a robbery – such as pharmacies, jewelers and convenience stores – need to know what to do in the event of an emergency, and urges them to attend this free session.
“Hopefully we get a good response, and even if we don’t we’ll do it again,” Lackovic said.