An iconic Vancouver landmark has been broken into multiple times this month, and staff believe it's fallout from changes made to Stanley Park because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff at the Teahouse restaurant say would-be thieves broke into the building in Stanley Park on Nov. 4, 11 and 19. They say the break-ins represent a level of crime never seen before in the restaurant's four-decade history.
Jason Kelly, the restaurant's general manager, told CTV News Vancouver the facility's management believes the closure of Stanley Park at the start of the pandemic, followed by changes to traffic patterns over the summer, has made the Teahouse "a sitting duck for would-be vandals."
"The lack of accessibility to the park, I think, is sort of a central issue," Kelly said. "When you take a park closure and then reduce traffic with bike lanes, the park becomes quite inaccessible to people and it becomes sort of ingrained in their heads, in their minds, that it's not a super accessible park anymore."
The Vancouver Park Board closed one lane of Stanley Park Drive over the summer to provide more room for cyclists, who were not allowed on the Seawall to make more room for physical distancing among pedestrians.
The altered traffic pattern ended in late September, but not before drawing anger from businesses in the park, including the Teahouse. Kelly has previously told CTV News 90 per cent off the restaurant's business comes from people arriving in vehicles, rather than on foot or by bike.
Speaking to CTV News on Friday, Kelly noted that Beach Avenue remains closed to vehicular traffic, something he said contributes to the general feeling that the park is inaccessible.
Kelly said the restaurant is fortunate that its alarm system tends to scare away criminals before they can steal money, alcohol or anything else they may be looking for inside the building.
That said, the increase in break-ins is frustrating for Teahouse management, which Kelly said is considering its options for deterring the crime, including potentially blocking the windows that people have been using to break in.
Doing so could negatively impact the business, he said.
"You don't want to look like you're closed when you're open," Kelly said. "That's not going to help you."
The Teahouse has provided surveillance video of the break-ins to Vancouver police. CTV News has reached out to police for more information on the incidents.