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Lethbridge businesses adding security in response to break-ins

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Lethbridge business owners continue to suffer damages, as brazen thieves target their stores. It’s forced some owners to beef up their security, but as Erik Bay explains, they’re also seeking a proactive solution to the problem. – Jan 25, 2022

Hunter Heggie’s store has been broken into twice in the past month. Now, a plywood board covers where his window once was as he waits for protective roll shutters to be delivered.

“We didn’t want to go to roll shutters,” Heggie said. “We like to have a nice, open store, but that’s the reality of today that we’re going to have to do that.”

Vicky Vanden Hoek is also familiar with busted windows and the need for increased security. A truck rammed into her pub in late 2020 and the thieves made off with her ATM.

Read more: Lethbridge restaurant rammed by truck in Sunday morning break-in

“You have to beef up (security). No matter what happens you never stop learning how to secure your business even more,” Vanden Hoek said.

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In 2019, the city created a 50 per cent matching grant for businesses that implement exterior security upgrades.

Urban revitalization manager Andrew Malcolm is seeing steady use of the funds. Through October 2021, 38 properties had received more than $80,000 in funding from the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) grant.

Read more: Lethbridge ranked worst on StatsCan’s 2020 crime severity index

“Primary improvements have been some sort of window coverings, bars, roll shutters,” Malcolm said. “A lot of exterior lighting, especially off of laneways and fencing for larger sites.”

Heggie says he plans to use the grant to help cover his new security measure, but wants to see more done to address what he feels is causing the crime.

“We’ve been dealing with… social problems for a long time,” he said.

A broken window at King of Trade. Courtesy: Hunter Heggie. Courtesy: Hunter Heggie

“I know we have committees, council, city administration and police working on it and we are all trying to work together. I think that the solution is putting everybody together, social agencies and trying to figure this thing out.

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Malcolm says city council is set to review the program soon and believes the demand is still there.

“It has been successful so we, as administration, believe we should continue it and we will take direction from council.”

The grant is intended for businesses in the city’s urban core, but exemptions can be made for commercial properties outside that area.

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