Business owners in southwest London ‘frustrated’ by lack of police response amid frequent thefts

Some small business owners at a commercial corridor in southwest London, Ont., say they’ve lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment from thefts in recent months and despite filing police reports immediately, they’re still waiting for an investigation to happen.

Nicholas Waldram, owner of Eavesafe Gutter Protection, said he’s out more than $40,000 after his trailer filled with expensive tools and materials was stolen from outside his shop at the Wonderland Business Park Friday night.  

“I thought I had all the precautions taken,” he said. “I had hitch locks on the trailer, security cameras and an alarm system but all these deterrents didn’t matter, they just pulled [everything] up, cut the locks off and within six minutes they were gone.”

At least five other businesses at the complex have also had trailers stolen from their parking spots in a span of four months, Waldram said.

Waldram said he tried to file a police report the next morning and was told to do so online. He said he waited hours to get a confirmation from police before making multiple calls to the non-emergency line, which is when an officer took his information over the phone. 

“They kept brushing me off and said it would be a waste of police resources to send someone out. They were talking about how short-staffed they were, and those are all valid points but I just wanted to file a police report,” he said.

Wonderland Business Park is located at the intersection of Wharncliffe Road and Wonderland Road South. Business owners at the commercial complex say they’ve had trailers stolen from their parking spots. (Submitted by Nicholas Waldram)

Waldram believes that despite recurring incidents, police aren’t taking property thefts seriously. He has sent police video security footage his personal camera captured which shows an SUV pull up to his trailer and tow it away, he said. CBC News has also seen the video. 

“I don’t even know that anyone has even looked at what I sent,” he said. “It just doesn’t feel human that I can’t talk to a police officer in person.”

London police said an investigation is ongoing, but did not respond to CBC’s inquiries about the delays in property theft investigations.

Owners adding their own security

A couple of doors down from Waldram’s business, Mountain Stone Countertops and Kitchens also had a trailer stolen in June and owner Ray Hassounah said the theft resulted in a $16,000 loss. He immediately filed a report online but has still yet to hear back from police. 

“It’s been very frustrating because we’re small businesses here trying to survive and we’re getting our things stolen,” he said. “We’ve had to lay off three workers because we have no tools for them to work with.”

Both Waldram and Hassounah said they’ve spent $2,000 and $5,000 each to install extra cameras and locks for their doors and trailers, and put Apple air tags on equipment in the trailers.

Hassonah feels that Old Oak Properties — the business centre’s owners— need to increase on-site security and have both entrances to the property be gated. 

Old Oak’s spokesperson Robert Bierbaum said in an email that “Tenants are notified not to leave items in the public parking, as it is accessible to the public, and is not within their leased premises specifically as there is a risk of items going missing if left in public spaces.”

Of the two entrances to the complex, only the Wonderland Road South entrance is gated, with the Wharncliffe entrance still wide open. Businesses say having gates for both entrances would help deter thieves.
Of the two entrances to the complex, only the Wharncliffe Road entrance is gated, but the Wonderland Road South entrance isn’t. Businesses say having gates for both entrances would help deter thieves. (Submitted by Nicholas Waldram)

Paul Van Meerbergen is the area’s councillor and said more police funding is necessary to improve response times. He recommends people continue filing police reports so they can direct resources to a particular area.

“We’re not meeting a reasonable expectation that businesses and residents have access to adequate policing. Our city is growing rapidly and we have to keep up with our police,” he said.  

“It may seem like online they’re not paying much attention, but the fact police very much are, so it’s a frustrating situation but funding the police properly is key to remedying the situation.”

Waldram also has to lay off two employees and wants better protections for small business owners. He said an Old Oak representative has agreed to work with him to enhance security. 

“My employees all have families they need to put food on the table for and so do I. Any business is reliant on their personal property to do the work they need to do, if they get stolen then people are out of work. How does the economy function?”

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