I'm not having any luck with local police either
Over the past few days, local policing has been a big story in the local media, spear headed by London small business owner Rebecca of Chick Boss Cake
deciding "enough's enough", and using her voice and platform to speak out about the never ending crime she is experiencing as someone who has invested in, hired in, and does business in our downtown:
People sleeping rough, battling addiction or untreated mental health issues, and struggling in today's economy and lack of support for those on social assistance most definitely deserve better. We are absolutely in a housing, homelessness, and poverty crisis. I see it every day because it is my job to support those folks.
But Rebecca deserves better as someone investing in our city, stimulating our local economy, and providing jobs to our citizens.
Personally, I come from a demographic that tends to have good relations with police. White. 30's. Middle class. Pay my taxes on time. Keep my nose clean. This is privilege, sure. I realize this.
Unfortunately, over the past year, I haven't been able to receive the assistance I would assume would be available to me when I needed it. In 2022, I tried to do the right thing and support a local dad of three who was a contractor and a member of my dad group, Dad Club London. I got scammed. I was an idiot. Story here
I spent five months trying to make Andrew Fraser of AJF Construction make it right. When his house of cards collapsed and his fraud was obvious, I filed a police report. It's about 40 pages, and includes a confession, a motive, and many corroborating witnesses.
Open and shut case, right?
Book 'em, Danno?
Nope. In July of 2022 when I and nine others filed, with over $100,000 combined unaccounted for, we were told the Financial Crimes Unit was swamped and it would be up to a year to assign an investigator. It's been 11 months as of this week. My kid missed out on piano lessons this past year because $1.650 was stolen from us. Two front line public service workers who have been under 1% wage freezes for years. Who had a front door with a blown seal and snow blowing through it. We had to go into our pockets another $8,600 to hire a different contractor, and it was done within three months.
We deserve better. And I'm not giving up and rolling over and writing this off. I grew up in dire poverty, where you earn everything you have and you don't let people take it from you. I have plans involving leaving no stone unturned locally, provincially, and federally, until justice is found.
In April 2023, we were victimized again.
On April 4th, my wife's vehicle was stolen 300 metres from our house. Out of a Muffler Man parking lot. The owner finished swapping her battery, backed it out, left the keys on the counter, and told her to come get it. In the ten minutes it took for her to wander over with the dog, someone came in and swiped the keys off the counter and took off.
Once it was realized as to what happened, the police were called. They called me about 90 minutes later and took a report over the phone, and gave me a case number to report to insurance. No in person visit, no check in at the site of the theft, just a few questions and a report number.
That night, I was having a rough week after a few other pieces of bad news fell into place, and needed to go blow off some steam. I went to play basketball and ended up tearing my calf. I was put into a walking boot for two weeks.
36 hours later, I receive a phone call from my wife. "You'll never guess where I am?"
"Standing beside our stolen car."
It turns out my wife went to get some groceries from the No Frills around the corner, metres from The Mufflerman where it was stolen.
Visual confirmation of proof of life. Our thief nicely parked while out for some errands
I rolled over from my office in my walking boot, not being able to move freely for the first time since my last knee surgery in 2011.
I checked in the windows of the vehicle, and it was full of drug paraphanelia, and looked like it was being actively driven as opposed to abandoned. I called London Police, and was instructed to go home and wait for an officer to call me to meet them back at the vehicle when they arrived.
Five and a half hours later, I get a phone call from private number. "This is Sgt. O'Brien from London Police, where are you?"
I tell him that I am home, as instructed. We get into an argument as to who gave me that advice and why. He tells me the car is gone and asks why I didn't "take it back". Because the person has the key, and it looks like it's full of burnt oxy or fentanyl patches anyways.
Sgt. O'Brien then tells me there's a known car thief in the neighbourhood, and he will swing by and check their parking lot. He finds our vehicle within 30 seconds, and someone in it. He hangs up. I go to bed around 11 and wake up the next morning with 4 missed calls. Sgt. O'Brien told me in voice mail in the fourth call that he had the vehicle, that I was obviously sleeping, and that it was in pretty good shape but they were going to tow it and I could pick it up from the towyard. He tells me it's full of stuff, some of which is clearly not mine and been siezed, and if the rest is not mine to throw it out or call them to come back and pick it up.
We go to see the vehicle at Ross Towing, and it is DESTROYED. It's full of stolen property. It's full of burn marks, drugs, alcohol, cut holes, ripped out wires, and stab marks.
Our vehicle AFTER Sgt. O'Brien cleaned it out and told us it was safe for us to pick up
I call LPS HQ to leave a message for Sgt. O'Brien asking for the key if he has it, as it was not with the vehicle, and asking about my wife's transponder for parking at work, as she has to replace it if it's gone and it's not in the vehicle.
I never get a call back.
The body shop assesses the interior and exterior body damage at almost $20,000. For a vehicle with 90,000 km, in great shape when stolen, and only driven to work/school pickup/Costco, it is toast. We have to pay another $33,000 out of pocket on top of the insurance payout to replace it with a quality new vehicle, as used vehicles are going for more than new since they are available right away.
Walking away from that scenario, I am left with a question: If the police know there's a car thief in my neighbourhood, right down to where he lives, within a minute drive of where it was stolen, why couldn't they have swung by the day it was stolen?
Without having 48 hours to joy ride in it and destroy it, my wife and I may have $33,000 extra in our pockets if dilligence was done. I am not anti-police. Not by a long shot. I volunteer alongside police. I fundraise alongside police. I wanted to be a police officer myself until a major catastrophic knee injury requiring 7 surgeries had other ideas. My friends are police. I have dedicated my life to public safety and supporting the least fortunate still.
But, at the same time I have to ask: Where are the priorities? Where is the dilligence and follow through? Where is the leadership?
I know we have a recent and new chief. I have heard great things and have high hopes for him. I am one of the biggest cheerleaders of good police officers out there. I have faith on an individual level with the vast majority of LPS officers.
But I'm also a two time victim of crime in the last year. All I've received is the filing of two police reports, a total of $34.,650 out of my own pocket, and no arrests that I know of.
Where's the justice?
People who aren't jaded cynics like myself and Rebecca at Chick Boss Cake, people who always try to give back and do the right thing, need to see the action and the intentions and the priorities that live the LPS motto of "Deeds Not Words". The officers need the leadership, the resources, the legislative framework, and the public accountability required to get this right. Before the biggest believers lose all hope in a fair and just society and apathy and every person for themselves because we are all in this alone takes over. London has a lot of problems. And London has a lot of caring and talented people who want to fix them. But survival and protection of loved ones and property is a basic human instinct. And when we lose faith as a civilization in our ability to collectively meet that basic need, we will lose all momentum we are making in so many other areas.
We can all do so much better. And it's on all of us to both do our parts and to demand that others do theirs too.