In the last three years, crime in the spring and summer in Chinatown has decreased by 40 per cent annually.
This is largely due to an increased police presence in the community, starting in early spring with additional officers -- supported by auxiliary members -- participating in a high-visibility project.
“The people in the area, particularly business owners, are very happy,” Chinatown Business Improvement Association (BIA) chair Tonny Louie said at the launch of Project Blue Stallion, at the corner of Dundas St. W and Huron St. on March 24. “They relish the beefed-up police presence, they think the officers are doing a good job and the numbers in terms of crime go down whenever there is a project like this.”
Toronto Police 52 Division is partnering with the Chinatown BIA in the eight-week program that has the support of the Chief’s Chinese Community Consultative Committee and 52 Division Community Police Liaison Committee.
“This is an annual crime suppression quality-of-life project that we do around this time every year,” said Superintendent Dave McCormack, 52 Division unit commander. “What we see is that, as spring arrives and Chinatown becomes more vibrant as people start to come out, tourists start to come back in the area for shopping and people from Toronto come here as well for business or to spend pleasurable days downtown, there is an opportunity for crime to increase.
“Traditionally, what we see is a rise in thefts and crimes of opportunity, particularly thefts from vehicles and robberies to a lesser degree. The biggest spike we see is in theft from automobiles. If we want to make a crime-suppression program successful, we have to educate the public and tell them, at this time of year and at Christmas as well, that when they are out shopping and they have laptops, GPSs and cell phones in their vehicles, they should take a few seconds to conceal them so that the criminal walking up and down our side streets and in our parking lots will not be tempted to smash a vehicle window when he sees something he can steal rather quickly.”
McCormack said crime has decreased by almost two-thirds in the community in the last three years because of similar crime-prevention projects launched in the spring.
“Toronto is a very safe city and Chinatown is very safe as well,” he said. “But we want to get the message out that, when you come to Toronto, particularly when you come to Chinatown in my 52 Division, you will not be a victim of crime. As long as you take common-sense safeguards, you will have a great day and lots of fun with your family.”
As part of the community safety initiative, McCormack said young people in the area will participate in a spray-paint vandalism-eradication project.
“We want the youths to have some pride in their neighbourhoods,” said McCormack. “Spray-painting vandalism continues to be a major concern in this community and we are partnering with the city to work with the community to prevent spray-painting vandalism and apprehend offenders found defacing or damaging property.”