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Kelowna businesses take to social media to battle crime

Several businesses have dealt with theft as well as vandalism in recent months
Discovery of smashed out windows at Bellevue Day Spa on Lakeshore Road, Aug. 2023. (Facebook)

A quick scan of social media and news headlines across the Okanagan appears to show businesses in Kelowna continuously battling vandalism, break-and-enters and theft in recent months

From the vandals that struck the Von Schweets Treat Shop a few weeks after opening, forcing it to close for several weeks, to a lamp that was stolen from Born to Shake, to a man who appeared to fall through a garage window to reportedly steal a necklace from Frakas in South Pandosy.

Business owners are fed up with these petty crimes that cost their operations big dollars in the end.

Many have been posting videos of these thefts in action to social media, in an effort to catch the crooks or have the stolen items returned.

In the case of Born to Shake, an Instagram video of three women stealing a lamp from the cocktail bar in the north end, quickly brought justice for the local business as two days later the lamp was returned with a sorry note and a box of doughnuts.

For Frakas, the would-be thief left empty-handed after trying to retrieve a necklace through the garage window, then falling both in and out of the store.

That business posted to social media while the video appeared to be comedy gold, “It doesn’t take a genius to understand the impact for a small business. It means more than just losing inventory; it’s about the financial strain, the feeling of violation, and the impact on our sense of security.”

As businesses might feel violated and frustrated with the uptick in theft throughout Kelowna, Cpl. Michael Gauthier said there is some liability in posting videos of alleged thieves to social media.

“The only real liability in situations like this would likely be civil and that’s if someone was easily identifiable but did not actually commit a crime or was perhaps later acquitted,” he explained.

Cpl. Gauthier encourages anyone who might be the victim of a crime to contact the police. But for businesses to share information and CCTV footage with investigations, to help identify suspects who can later be possibly charged.

“Many local businesses and stores use a “Business Watch” type of system where they share photos and information internally between store locations or even with other companies to help each other out,” said Cpl. Gauthier.

The Downtown Kelowna Association also advises those with businesses in the downtown core to contact its office as it can accept any photos or video as well as police incidents from businesses, which it can distribute internally and to its Downtown On Call Team who are an added resource for keeping an extra set of eyes open downtown.

READ MORE: Man released despite ‘concerning and violent’ actions, say Kelowna police

Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

Graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. Also holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University.
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