While there has been a decrease in the number of street robberies in 42 Division, there has been an upsurge in violent muggings in the last year that concerns police.
“Firearms and knives are being used and serious injuries are occurring after the suspects secure valuables,” said Detective Gerald Heaney, at a news conference at police headquarters on January 29. “In some of our purse-snatch robberies, there has been a grotesque amount of violence in some of the cases, where some of the women have been dragged and seriously injured. There have been concussions and serious head injuries in some cases.”
Some of the robberies have occurred near Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus stops.
“There is a trend where people are targeted leaving the TTC, or it’s a crime of opportunity, where someone has a valuable cellphone, tablet or some type of electronic equipment that someone else on the bus has seen,” he said, of victims who often distracted while listening to music on headphones when the robbery occurs.
Heaney is appealing to citizens to be aware of their surroundings and not carry all of their personal identification with them.
“If you have a bag or purse, I recommend you keep your cellphone in a pocket,” he said. “What we have had happen is that people are unable to contact us after they have been violently robbed.”
The 42 Division officer is also urging parents to pay closer attention to what their children are bringing home.
“The majority of these robberies are committed by males between the ages of 16 and 26,” Heaney added. “If you have children in possession of valuables such as cellphones, iPads or any other tablet devices, and they are telling you they are getting them from their friends, I would question that because we have found that individuals were in possession of a large quantity of devices from other robberies.”
TTC Transit Enforcement Unit head Mark Cousins offered some safety tips to customers.
“Many crimes are crimes of opportunity, so we want to make ourselves the most undesirable targets as we can for criminals,” he said. “This can be done by walking with confidence and being aware of your surroundings. Don’t become distracted by those electronic devices that we are tuned in to all day and night. Keep valuables out of sight. Keep the zippers and fasteners on your bags closed and keep your bags in sight at all times. If you see someone or something suspicious, report it. See something, say something.
“…We also have a request stop program. What that means is, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., all customers – male and female – travelling alone can request that the bus be stopped at a location other than the scheduled bus stop.”
Toronto Crime Stoppers partnered with 42 Division to produce a crime re-enactment video that was released at the news conference.
“This serves two purposes,” said Detective Chris Scherk, Crime Stoppers program co-ordinator. “It’s an appeal for information and a crime-prevention and education function.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact 42 Division at (416) 808-4204, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.