Toronto Police 42 Division is applying a full court press to thwart escalating robberies, particularly from distracted customers using Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) buses in Scarborough.
On February 5, the Division’s Community Response and Community Relations officers joined forces with their Community Policing Liaison Committee and Auxiliary members and three TTC special constables to ride buses and distribute crime prevention material to bus riders during the evening rush hour.
“Passengers on the bus were very receptive to the main message that we are trying to get out that they should be aware of their surroundings,” said Crime Prevention Officer Constable Gary Gomez. “In the last few months, we have seen a spike in robberies committed against riders disembarking buses. In most cases, they have headphones on and are not aware of what is happening around them.”
Crime prevention material was distributed to riders on the Victoria Park, Steeles Ave. E., Finch Ave. E, Midland Ave. Shepard Ave. McCowan Rd. and Markham Rd. bus routes.
“These are the major bus routes in our area and we chose that time slot because the buses are normally filled with passengers at time,” Gomez said.
He rode the Finch Ave. E bus with 42 Division Staff Sergeant Dave Rydzik and Mark Cousins, the head of TTC Transit Enforcement.
“When we got on the bus, more than half of the people that we are trying to reach with our message were doing exactly what we don’t want them to do,” said Rydzik. “They were on their phones with their earplugs on looking down and they didn’t even realize that there were police officers on the bus. Once we got their attention, they were understanding of what we were trying to tell them.”
Rydzik estimates that nearly 2,000 pamphlets were distributed during the two-hour blitz.
“It was very successful and it’s something we may consider doing again,” he added.