Shoplifters, fraud artists, thieves and drug dealers operating in the historic Cloverdale town centre are being put on notice.
A new anti-crime initiative is being launched in Cloverdale, where the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association and the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce are asking local merchants to report any suspicious activity as part of a business alert program being set up.
The Heads Up! initiative will initially be restricted to the 260 members of the Cloverdale BIA, but it’s hoped it will expand to the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce’s membership, which represents a larger geographic area.
On April 2, the business community is invited to an open house at the Surrey RCMP’s District 4 office from 8 to 9 a.m. to find out more about Heads Up! and other ways to help reduce property crime and criminal activity.
“We were finding that we had to spend much more time dealing with police matters,” Cloverdale BIA executive director Paul Orazietti explained. “It is a critical part of our job to make sure things are safe, and look safe, and are clean.”
The aim of Heads Up! is to spread word of suspicious or criminal activity in a timely manner, giving neighbouring businesses fair warning through email alerts.
Tips would be sent in by email to the Cloverdale BIA and to Staff Sgt. Martin Blais, commander of the Surrey RCMP’s district 4 office serving Cloverdale/Port Kells.
Alerts to neighbouring businesses would then be sent out warning of suspicious individuals operating in the area or incidents such as thefts.
The contents of the communiques will be confidential, according to Orazietti.
The initiative is a response to long-standing concerns from local merchants who have grown frustrated with opportunistic criminal activity such as fraudulent transactions, shoplifting and costly break-ins.
“These offenders are well known by merchants,” Orazietti said. “They travel around. They use crime to support really bad habits, be it drugs and things like that.”
Drug dealers who are active in the Cloverdale town centre are another concern, Orazietti said.
He hopes the Heads Up program will provide Surrey RCMP with concrete data that will create a more complete picture.
“There are times when frustration comes in and you may not report a crime. You may be too busy, and you don’t report it,” he said.
“We’re trying to work with the RCMP to make the information higher in quality and make it simpler for people to complain.”