Neigh­bours cheer on po­lice dur­ing ar­rest

By­law of­fi­cers work­ing with the land­lord, ten­ants and the RCMP to bring no­to­ri­ous home into com­pli­ance with the Good Neigh­bour By­law

Penticton Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE FRIES

Neigh­bours went out­side to cheer last week as po­lice ar­rested a man in the front yard of a no­to­ri­ous home at 377 Win­nipeg St. in down­town Pen­tic­ton.

But the bust, which ended quickly with a man be­ing hauled away in hand­cuffs, fell short of the full-on raid neigh­bours be­lieve is re­quired to deal with un­savoury ac­tiv­ity at the prop­erty.

“I thought it was go­ing to be a ma­jor cleanout,” said one neigh­bour, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The di­lap­i­dated house, every win­dow in which ap­pears to be bro­ken, at­tracts a steady stream of short-term vis­i­tors day and night. The yard is filled with an ever-chang­ing col­lec­tion of bikes, shop­ping carts and other seem­ingly ran­dom items — in­clud­ing a pi­ano last win­ter — that show up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Those liv­ing nearby sus­pect the home is used to traf­fic drugs and stolen prop­erty. They also com­plain about noise from peo­ple yelling, fight­ing and lis­ten­ing to loud mu­sic.

“There’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on,” said the neigh­bour.

“There’s a part of me that knows peo­ple are al­lowed to live the lives they want how­ever they want to do it,” she added, “but it’s just this con­stant thing.”

The house is owned by the Rand­hawa fam­ily, whose hold­ings in­clude the Three Gables Liquor Store, over top of which a low-in­come room­ing house was or­dered closed by the B.C. Fire Com­mis­sioner in 2014 due to dan­ger­ous liv­ing con­di­tions that left 17 res­i­dents in search of new homes.

The fam­ily could not be reached for com­ment on this story.

At­tempts to interview res­i­dents of 377 Win­nipeg St. were also un­suc­cess­ful.

A woman present dur­ing the ar­rest last week told The Her­ald, un­prompted, that she could pro­duce re­ceipts for every bike on the prop­erty and that the house had been un­fairly vil­lainized on so­cial me­dia. She de­clined to pro­vide fur­ther com­ment.

Whether its rep­u­ta­tion is de­served or not, the house has gen­er­ated eight com­plaints to the City of Pen­tic­ton so far this year, ac­cord­ing to devel­op­ment ser­vices man­ager An­thony Had­dad.

Most of the com­plaints re­lated to ex­ces­sive noise or un­sightly messes in the yard, he said in an email, not­ing by­law of­fi­cers reg­u­larly mon­i­tor the prop­erty and have been work­ing with the land­lord, ten­ants and the RCMP “to bring the prop­erty into com­pli­ance with the Good Neigh­bour By­law.”

Pen­tic­ton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager was un­able to say pre­cisely how many com­plaints po­lice have re­ceived about the house — in part be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish be­tween calls re­lated to the prop­erty and those re­lated to its vis­i­tors — but es­ti­mated the num­ber is on par with the eight called in to the city.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of our calls are for mi­nor prop­erty of­fences, es­pe­cially bi­cy­cles and al­le­ga­tions that there is a bike chop shop. In every event where po­lice at­tended, we ran the se­rial num­bers of every bike frame we could ac­cess. In only two cases did the bikes come back stolen af­ter we seized them,” De Jager said in an email.

De Jager noted, how­ever, that the “vast ma­jor­ity” of sus­pected stolen bikes re­cov­ered by po­lice are un­trace­able be­cause the right­ful own­ers haven’t added their rides’ se­rial num­bers to a data­base like Project 529, which is free.

“All in all, while we con­tinue to work with the city to clean up this area, the crim­i­nal­ity (at 377 Win­nipeg St.) is less preva­lent than the un­sight­li­ness and per­cep­tion by the neigh­bours that it is a den of ma­jor crime,” De Jager con­tin­ued.

“While I un­der­stand their con­cerns, I can­not em­pha­size enough how im­por­tant it is to call us as in­ci­dents are un­fold­ing so that we can re­spond and de­velop a bet­ter pic­ture of what is hap­pen­ing.”

JOE FRIES/Pen­tic­ton Her­ald

Moun­ties swarmed 377 Win­nipeg St. last week to ar­rest a man who was wanted for fail­ing to serve an in­ter­mit­tent jail sen­tence. Some peo­ple liv­ing in the area were dis­ap­pointed to see po­lice leave so quickly.

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