With times tense in Chinatown after a rash of break-ins and vandalism, about a dozen police officers from Station 21 fanned out across the area Tuesday to check in with business owners.
“It’s to meet with them, hear their concerns, and also to transmit advice about crime prevention,” said Inspector Martine Dubuc.
According to Dubuc, the Asian community is sometimes hesitant to reach out to police. Officers reminded people to call Info-Crime if anything suspicious happens, and handed out crime-prevention materials.
The operation included officers who could speak English, French, and Cantonese.
“I think it’s good, at least it brings up the awareness for the security of Chinatown,” said Kate Lau, owner of Sasa Salon.
Dubuc said the operation was long-planned in conjunction with Crime Prevention Week, but after Global News reported on the recent string of theft and vandalism, police added patrols to the area.
“It’s certain that after the media reports, I asked the officers of Station 21 to go to Chinatown more often,” she said.
The inspector said crime has not actually increased in Chinatown compared to last year, but acknowledged that the recent situation has been worrisome.
Though some residents and business owners have described pandemic-related racism in the area, police say no hate crimes have been reported.
“It could be racism, it could be people who have nothing to do,” said Dobe and Andy co-owner Eric Ku when asked to explain the recent crimes.
Policework in Chinatown will continue. A community liaison officer will be meeting with Xixi Li, director of Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal, for more discussions later this week.
“I’m very glad. It’s very positive,” said Li, adding she looked forward to the opportunity to give police more information on different realities in Chinatown.
Merchants who spoke to Global News were happy to see police in the area, but they hope the increased presence lasts, especially at night.
“Around 10 o’clock groups of people move in, hanging out at Sun Yat-sen Park in groups and that scares a lot of people away,” said Jimmy Chan of the Chan Association of Montreal
Merchants hope Montrealers feel safe enough to come support the many small businesses in Chinatown. They say things have been very quiet there during the pandemic.