Property Crime Concern Has Downtown Bars Launching Patrols

A downtown Windsor business owner is taking to the streets to deal with what he sees as rampant property crime.

Phog Lounge owner Tom Lucier, along with some other downtown business owners — including those from Craft Heads and The Windsor Beer Exchange, are beginning patrols between 1am and 4am to show an increased presence in the area with the aim of detering crime.

"So, if we're just around, they'll get the sense — I'm hoping — that this isn't where you do this anymore," says Lucier.

Lucier tells AM800 News there have been a number of incidents in the area of University Ave. and Victoria Ave. in the past few months including windows being smashed, vehicles being broken into and a person found hiding in the basement at Windsor Beer Exchange at 4am — apparently waiting for the staff to leave.

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The glass of the door to the Phog Lounge in downtown Windsor is cracked by an apparent rock throwing. Photo taken September 4, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Lucier says he calls police regularly to report suspicious activity, and while he understands officers are stretched in their responsibilities, he doesn't feel there are enough overnight patrols in the area.

"When it's a little quieter downtown during the week, it's rampant," says Lucier. "I see regular offenders, guys that I've seen with flashlights in cars right on this block, right in that alley, coming night after night. I know what they're out for because I saw them the night before."

According to Lucier, property crime in the downtown is happening three or four times a week — sometimes more.

"It's so commonplace that I can guarantee you if we had, not even a bait car, you put my car right here and put anything of remote value in the front seat, it'll get broken into tonight — it might get broken into in a half an hour, I'm not kidding," says Lucier.

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The Phog Lounge in downtown Windsor pictured on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The patrols that Lucier says have been tried out in small doses so far, are a sort of last resort.

He's just tired of dealing with the vandalism and stolen or broken property.

"We don't want to do this by the way. I don't want to do this. I'd rather that like, the money I'm putting into my business licence that automatically gets siphon  to the [Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association] that does nothing with it — I'd like to see them do something with that. I pay taxes so, maybe like a few more patrols."

Lucier wants to see a greater presence downtown to help head off more property crime.

"We have a DWBIA that has money that I haven't seen $5 spent in the right place in 10 years. Like, why isn't there somebody putting more lighting around these lots? Why isn't there paid security?"

Earlier this summer, in recognition of rising property and violent crimes, city council backed a $1.4-million proposal to hire 12 new officers as part of a "Problem Oriented Policing" unit — better known as the POP unit — meant to initially target the downtown core.

Also this summer, council signed off on three downtown alley lights meant to help improve safety.

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A group of Windsor Police Service officers on a bicycle patrol downtown Windsor on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)