Winnipeg business victimized by crime wave

A Winnipeg business owner is speaking out after criminals hit her establishment three times in just over a month, including a bizarre trailer fire.

Jennifer Hofer, owner of the External Beauty Institute in the city’s West End, said she’s fed up.

“Like I’m shaking right now still because I’m frustrated and I can’t do anything.” said Hofer.

Security footage from June 29 shows an individual on a bike drop off what appears to be a propane torch beside a garbage trailer parked behind the business.

The next morning, just after 5:00 am, a person returns on foot. Using the torch, they ignite garbage stitting inside the trailer. But, instead of fleeing, they hang around to watch. At one point, the person stands in awe with their arms in the air. The individual also takes the time to eat, sit, and even lie down before finally walking away from the scene.

“It’s very, very clear that the guy didn’t care,” Hofer said. “He was very proud of what he did, he hung out here forever.”

The business was also broken into twice over the past few weeks. The front doors were smashed in during the first incident, in which a TV and phone were stolen. A second break-in saw an office door kicked in, a laser machine vandalized, and makeup stolen. All in, Hofer says the tally is more than $150,000, not including the trailer.

“The police are wonderful to deal with, I shouldn’t have to become best friends with them, but that’s kind of the situation right now,” Hofer said.

In June, the province provided funding to help Winnipeg police tackle the soaring retail theft problem by paying overtime to beef up presence in hot spots. Now, Justice Minister Matt Wiebe said the program is being extended.

“We’re getting very positive feedback and are committed to continuing this initiative, in partnership with the WPS, while we develop long term solution to address the root causes of crime throughout the province.” Wiebe said in a statement.

Osborne Village resident Paula Moynihan has noticed the increased amount of police.

“So I’ve seen police walking around here,” Moynihan said.

Moynihan said it’s too early to say if the plan is paying off but she supports the measure.

“The store owners appreciate it, and I know the people on the street do, I do,” Moynihan said.

Jennifer Hofer says more tax dollars for police OT won’t solve the crime wave. She said there needs to be more consequences.

“The police are doing what they can, but they’re arresting the same bloody people,” Hofer said.

Winnipeg police said details about the program’s extension will be released later this week.

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