Vancouver – Vancouver Police have arrested a prolific property crime offender, after the same Gastown business was burglarized three nights in a row over the weekend.

“Business owners and their staff are already struggling to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions that have affected their ability to make ends meet,” says Sergeant Steve Addison. “Rising crime and public safety issues are compounding the pressures they face.”

VPD officers were called three times over the weekend to a nightclub near Abbott Street and West Cordova after someone smashed a window, went inside, and stole liquor bottles in the early morning hours. The crimes caused thousands of dollars in damage and losses.

On Sunday morning, VPD officers arrested a suspect after he was seen breaking a window to get inside the club.

“An alert witness called 9-1-1 after seeing the suspect break the window,” adds Sergeant Addison. “This allowed our officers to discreetly enter the area, make observations, and arrest the suspect before he was able to flee.”

Kevin Willard, 37, is now charged with one count of break and enter in relation to Sunday’s incident, while VPD investigates potential links with the other two break and enters.

The crime spree was just one in a series of incidents that kept police busy in Gastown over the weekend.

Other crimes of note:

–          More than $10,000 in clothing, jewelry, and accessories were stolen from a store near West Cordova and Richards Street after someone entered the business around 4:30 a.m. on Friday. VPD officers later recovered about $2,800 of the stolen merchandise from a man who was attempting to sell it in the Downtown Eastside. Investigators are still gathering evidence and no charges have been laid.

–          An employee at a business near Abbott Street and West Cordova confronted a shopper who had entered without a mask on Sunday evening. The man uttered racial slurs at the employee, who is Asian, and began behaving aggressively. When the employee tried to call 9-1-1, the man snatched the phone from her hands and threw it to the ground. VPD officers are now looking for the suspect, who fled before police arrived.

–          VPD officers were called to a social housing building on Water Street on Sunday night for a 42-year-old man who had been stabbed in the neck, shoulder, and abdomen. He was bleeding heavily when police arrived, and told officers the person who stabbed him was a complete stranger. Officers reviewed security video and quickly identified a suspect, who was well known to them. A 33-year-old man was later arrested on West Hastings Street and was set to appear in court on Monday. The victim is expected to survive.

Since April, VPD officers have responded to 82 violent crimes and 259 property crimes in Gastown, including 32 commercial break and enters. But, VPD believes that’s just a small portion of the crimes that are actually occurring, because so many still go unreported.

“We meet regularly with Gastown merchants and residents who tell us they are resigned to the crime in their neighbourhood and don’t bother reporting it,” adds Sergeant Addison. “We encourage all victims of crime, or anyone with information about a crime, to call us right away so we can properly respond, investigate, and prevent more incidents from occurring.”

All in-progress incidents, or anything that could put someone’s health and safety at risk, should be immediately reported to 9-1-1. Less serious incidents, where there are no safety concerns and the suspect has left, can be reported online or to VPD’s non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.

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