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VPD beefs up Commercial Drive patrols after reports of ‘very large’ youth ‘gang’

East Vancouver's Toby's Pub & Grill. .
East Vancouver's Toby's Pub & Grill. . Google Maps

Vancouver police say they’ve increased their presence on East Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, in the wake of complaints from a local pub about a “gang” of local youth.

Toby’s Pub and Grill took to Facebook last week to issue a warning to the neighbourhood about “a very large (20-30) group of youths roughly aged between 12-17 ‘ganging’ up and harassing, threatening, physically assaulting,” people.

In the post, the pub says it received multiple complaints of harassment out front of the property last Thursday, and that the youth were also taunting staff.

“These teenagers are splitting up into smaller groups of 4-6 and hanging out in all surrounding alleys and side streets,” the post added.

“They have made threats, they have been physical, and they are suspected to be possibly be armed to some extent. I have personally witnessed a metal rod, a wooden bat, as well as heard rumour of pepper spray, and possibly knives.”

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A representative for Toby’s declined to comment to Global News, referring the matter instead to the Commercial Drive Business Improvement Association.

A representative for the BIA could not be reached on Tuesday.

In an email, Vancouver Police Sgt. Jason Robillard said it had received calls from Toby’s on Thursday and Friday night.

“The requests were both related to a group of youths loitering and interfering with the patrons and staff at the Pub. On both occasions patrol officers were unable to locate the youths, who had fled prior to the officer’s arrival,” Robillard said.

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Police have now increased patrols in the area, have engaged their youth squad and are working to determine if any criminal offences have occurred, he added.

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Robillard said that while there was no record of increased youth harassment elsewhere in the neighbourhood, it is not unusual to see nuisance calls climb once spring and summer weather arrives.

“The safety of the public remains a priority for the Vancouver Police Department,” Robillard said. “Anyone who may feel unsafe [should] call 9-1-1 immediately and anyone who may walk at night [should] stay in well-lit areas and try your best to travel in pairs or groups.”