Crime watch: St. James residents weigh in on illicit neighbourhood activity

St. James residents discuss increase of property crimes in neighbourhood
Global News dives into crimes across neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. The first of a six part series looks at residents and business owner concerns in St. James.

As Winnipeg continues to feels the effects of increased crime in the city, Global News is diving into concerns felt by local residents. In week one of our six week series, we highlight concerns felt by St. James residents.

Residents in St. James say they have noticed more criminal activity in their neighbourhood in the last several years.

Vehicle break-ins, property crime, and an increased presence of transient people walking around at night are just a few concerns they have.

“I got a couple of kids in St. James, one was broken into and one is so far, so good.”

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Ray Gottfried has lived in St. James for 53 years. He said safety wasn’t much of a concern for him and his wife, although he was aware of someone who had been targeted by thieves, a sentiment shared by many in the area.

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Crime in Winnipeg and the effects of a meth crisis
Crime in Winnipeg and the effects of a meth crisis

With property crimes on the rise and more suspicious people casing the neighbourhood at night, local business owners and residents are feeling the frustration.

Alan Castell, a St. James resident says it’s something he’s experienced first hand.

“We’ve had three incidents in the last two years of people being in my yard looking for something or going through it and trespassing,” Castell said.

Over at Half Pints Brewing Co, CEO & President David Rudge says people have stolen bikes from the property and stolen tools off their bike repair station.

“There would have been a time where people would have stepped outside of their business and beat the living hell out of whoever had done whatever wrong that had happened to them,” Rudge said. “Now you can’t do anything.”

Scott Gillingham chats safety concerns in St. James
Scott Gillingham chats safety concerns in St. James

With the city’s meth crisis and violent crimes rising, people in the area are safeguarding their property.

Castell set up cameras outside of his home, along with an alarm system which notifies him in his bedroom if people trespass in his yard.

“It’s not reached the point that I’m having to worry people that are trying to get into my house, but I have had and I do have footage of people checking my doors so that’s a little bit scary,” Castell said.

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The St. James Village BIZ says they’ve heard business owners’ concerns and are now introducing a new Community Safety Grant.

“We’ve put some money into our budget this year specifically to help business who are considering increasing cameras or adding cameras for the first time, or lighting in the back lane,” Executive Director Jennifer Mathieson said. “Anything like that that would help have an impact on safety or reporting.”

Business owners can apply for the grant and help offset the cost of extra security measures, as property crime in the neighbourhood continues to climb.

The St. James community also came together to support a mother in the area, after she says her 9-year-old daughter was assaulted by another child. Watch below as Abigail Turner explains.

St. James community rallies around single mom
St. James community rallies around single mom