‘We’ve seen it spike’: Business associations calling on province for help with crime costs

Restaurants and other small businesses in Manitoba are looking for provincial help to offset the costs of crime, as more than half of business owners say they’re dealing with high rates of theft and vandalism.

Industry associations are now calling on the Manitoba government to offer thousands of dollars in rebates for security and repair bills, saying businesses are dealing with crime all too frequently.

The owner of the Four Crowns Restaurant and Hotel says crime is costing him a lot of money.

“Coming in and ordering a bunch of food and drinks and racking up a $100 – $200 tab and walking out the door,” said Ravi Ramberran.

Ramberran said he’s had to spend upwards of $30,000 to repair windows smashed by thieves, and even more on expensive security measures.

“This year alone, I spent over $20,000 in security alone, overnight motion alarms, outdoors infrared security systems, camera systems,” he listed.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reports more than half of Manitoba small businesses have been recently impacted by crime, the highest percentage of any province.

It’s joining the restaurant industry in calling on the government to provide financial relief from the theft and vandalism.

“It’s unfortunately too frequent, we’ve seen it spike,” said Jennifer Henshaw with Restaurants Canada.

During the election campaign, the NDP pledged a $300 rebate so businesses could install security upgrades such as alarms and doorbell cameras.

“It not only helps that individual business, it also keeps our community safe at large,” said Manitoba Justice Minister Matt Wiebe.

Industry advocates say that’s not enough. In a letter to Wiebe, Restaurants Canada is asking for up to $1,000 dollars per business for crime prevention measures and $2,000 for repairs.

“For things like broken dishware, glassware, replacing shattered glass, which is all too common right now,” Henshaw said.

Wiebe would not commit to those amounts, but did say he wants to work with the business groups to help beef up safety.

“We’re working with individuals and organizations to find out what that exact amount will be, what will best meet their needs, and is there other programs we can implement,” Wiebe said.

Ramberran said while the larger rebates would be nice, even they fall well short of what he’s had to spend on security, and what he sees as the real solution – stiffer consequences.

“It’s a crime where people are taking advantage, because they know they’re going to get away with it,” he said.

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