Getting her wallet stolen inside her own business was the last straw for Naomi Summers.
The owner of Dots Professional Alterations and Small Town Boutique in downtown Quesnel recently installed a doorbell requiring all customers to ring for entry.
“It kind of shook me up a bit, and it was very upsetting for me because there are things in my wallet that I couldn’t replace,” Summers said.
“I lost my son and I had a photo in there of him that can’t be replaced and just those sort of things.”
It was not the first time Summers has dealt with mischief or disturbances in her relatively modest shop on Reid Street.
Summers said the suspect had been in her store several times before and would always make a mess of items and say unpleasant things.
“But this time when she came in, she was actually able to be successful and take my wallet, so I just decided I can’t be in here and feel like I’m not safe, and putting the doorbell in is making me feel a lot better already,” Summers said.
“For me to be able to stay here, that’s the route I’m going to have to take, I think, because no one should have to put up with that at all in their place of business.”
Summers has been operating at her downtown location since last August.
Before setting shop in Quesnel, Summers lived in Fraser Lake, where she also was a business owner and had even a smaller store.
In Quesnel, Summers stopped using her mail slot after having learned of people putting rods in them to steal clothing off the racks of other businesses.
Quesnel RCMP Operations NCO Sgt. Richard Weseen said every business owner has a right to whatever security measures they wish on their business.
“I can’t say I’ve run the stats to determine if there has been an increase or not,” Weseen said on downtown crime.
”We continue to have our Good Neighbour Agreements with the downtown business association and all the downtown stakeholders—we meet twice a month regarding that.”
Quesnel Downtown Association (QDA) president Gilbert Schotel saw Summers’ announcement of installing the doorbell on Facebook Thursday, Jan. 6.
He said the QDA is actively working with bylaw and police to make sure things are safe around downtown and has crime prevention policies as well as a best practice guide available for members.
The QDA is also working with the city’s new community social coordinator Kelsi Andreychuk.
According to the city, Andreychuk works collaboratively with community partners and vulnerable populations to increase public education, decrease stigma and discrimination, and establish services that benefit the unsheltered homeless and the community as a whole.
The Clean Team and day labour program are two initiatives that consist of peer workers providing clean-up services while forming empowering and healthy connections with local businesses.
“Those have been making some positive impacts in terms of basically taking people that are at risk and giving them some form of meaningful employment, so they’re not resorting to crime,” Schotel said.
“The RMCP and bylaw have been quite good as well with being proactive.”
While Schotel acknowledged that there have been some unfortunate instances of shoplifting and theft, he added that they share their information amongst downtown associations and merchants to identify those who are causing issues and then forward that information to police.
Summers said she would like to see a different location for Quesnel’s homeless shelter as well as changes to the justice system she described as “catch and release.”
Although she believes law enforcement has its hands full, she wants to give her downtown location another chance.
“I love it, and I don’t want to have to leave, but I guess if it comes down to it, I will. I’m not going to put my life in danger over it.”