A business owner in downtown Vancouver says she was shocked Monday afternoon when an unusual item was stolen from her store.
Sunan Spriggs owns CityLux Boutique at Howe and Nelson Streets, across from the courthouse, and said a woman walked into the store, picked up their small couch from the reception area and walked out.
“So yesterday, at about 5 p.m., we had customers in the store and a female, drug user actually, just opened our door, walked in, took a look at our couch, picked it up and just walked right out the door with it, just down the street,” Spriggs told Global News.
She said this is not the first time something was stolen from the store or a homeless person has walked into the store and won’t leave but this is the first time the couch has been taken.
“It’s actually mind-blowing,” she said.
The woman had no fear of repercussion, Spriggs added, saying she saw her stop to cross the road and put the couch over her shoulder for easier handling.
“It just shows they have no fear of the police or any repercussions for this. It’s just out of control.”
Spriggs said she and her staff are scared to react to these incidents and she doesn’t want to put her staff at risk of being attacked.
She was later told by police the woman is well-known to them, was carrying scissors and has a history of violence, Spriggs added.
Vancouver police confirmed they were called just after 5 p.m. Monday and during a search of the area, officers found the suspects as well as the couch.
The suspects were identified but have since been released as there is not enough evidence to hold them, police said.
The couch was returned to the store.
Spriggs said there is low-income housing just down the street from her store and there are multiple times a day where police, paramedics or fire can be seen outside.
“As a small business owner, it’s really tough and every item counts, so having some of our really expensive items stolen, it’s tough,” she said.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart put forward a motion Tuesday recommending that city council allocate up to $30 million in emergency funding to buy or lease housing to help homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Spriggs said more needs to be done to make sure this housing is in the correct location to allow for access to mental health and addictions support and counselling.
She is considering adding a buzzer outside where customers would have to request to be let in but is concerned this will be a deterrent to their own customers.
“As a small business going through the pandemic, times are already really tough and we don’t have the extra cash flow to be investing in all this additional security,” Spriggs said.
“I have so much compassion for these individuals so I hope we can find a solution that works for everybody.”