The SPVM (Montreal police) is promising to increase patrols in Chinatown following a rise in criminal activity, notably break-ins, in recent weeks.
Business owners and community leaders spoke out on Monday about the need for more surveillance cameras and police presence. Montreal’s mayor condemned the recent incidents on Monday evening.
And on Tuesday, police issued a statement to Global News, vowing to increase police patrols in the area and help merchants beef up security.
“It definitely makes us feel safer, better, less neglected that’s for sure,” said Eileen Hu, owners of JC Spa in the heart of Chinatown.
“It’s good to see if that action took over so quickly I do hope that it’s in some sort of permanence and not just for a short time being.”
Community leaders have already noticed more officers on the streets, compared to earlier in the week. Global Montreal’s cameraman David Sedell captured at least one arrest on camera on Wednesday.
“Police officers at Station 21 will be more present in and around Chinatown,” said a statement from the SPVM noting that officers will be using “preventive and repressive intervention strategies.”
While police are actively looking for suspects involved in recent robberies, officers will also pay visits to merchants next week in the context of Crime Prevention Week, which starts Nov. 1.
“Police officers will meet with merchants in the sector to remind them the importance of reporting all incidents and offer tips to increase security in their businesses,” the statement concluded.
Eileen Hu has filed three police reports since August after suspects robbed her spa. On Monday, she was shocked to hear that Montreal police had only received three reports from the area since March.
“If they said three it would be all three of mine unless they’re miscalculating,” said Hu.
The SPVM later clarified that the third incident was a string of five robberies in Chinatown last week.
While the extra police presence comes as a relief, some worry it won’t last.
“I hope they will pay more attention to the security problems in Chinatown,” said director of Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal Xixi Li.
“It has been a while that the security hasn’t been good.”
Li said she received several messages from Montreal police when she arrived at work on Wednesday. “They want to have a meeting with me to discuss about security problem in Chinatown,” Li told Global News.
But some community leaders aren’t willing to wait. Jimmy Chan is setting up a community watchdog and foot patrol program and hopes police will help.
“Having a watchdog in the community is excellent so just in case things happen — emergency, someone got hurt or something like that — we could rescue that person immediately,” said Chan, president of the Chan Association of Montreal.
While Chan hasn’t yet heard from police, he and others in the community feel that the latest promise from police shows their cry for help didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“That basically confirms to us that we were somewhat heard,” said Hu.