Pubdate: Wed, 19 Mar 2008
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Windsor Star
Author: Trevor Wilhelm


Police Link Many Holdups To Addicts Feeding Drug Habits

Robberies in Windsor nearly tripled last month over the same time 
last year and drug charges also rose -- two growing problems police 
say are connected.

The employees of Ace Convenience Store on Wyandotte Street East have 
seen the trend first-hand. The store was robbed twice over the weekend.

Hadeer Bashir, 30, was behind the counter Friday night when the first 
robbery attempt occurred. He said a man walked into the store, 
motioned that he had a gun under his shirt and ordered him to open 
the register.

"I was frightened," said Bashir, adding the store was robbed again at 
knifepoint Sunday morning when a different clerk was working. "It's a 
holdup. It's not a joke. I was scared for the simple reason it's a holdup.

"You're in fear for your life. I just hope something like this 
doesn't happen again."

Despite the jump in crimes against persons, Windsor police said 
Tuesday in their monthly release of crime statistics that the overall 
crime rate dropped 12.5 per cent last month, compared to February 2007.

There were 1,497 reported occurrences last month and 1,712 
occurrences a year ago.

But robberies and attempted robberies surged from six in February 
2007 to 17 last month.

So far this year, McNorton said there have been 35 robberies, a 
considerable increase over the 24 robberies up to the same point last 
year. The majority of robberies, he said, have been at convenience stores.

Drug offences increased from 39 to 49. McNorton said the increase in 
drug activity, especially for hard stuff like crack cocaine, has been 
a trend over the last two years. Police have restructured to include 
a unit dedicated to drugs and guns, he said.

"And we've seen an increase in handguns," said McNorton. "Our 
restructure was in order to deal with that. We've had a lot of 
success with that. We've made quite a few arrests and quite a few seizures."

Often, he said, the people committing robberies are drug addicts 
looking for cash to feed their habits.


"A lot of the crimes, especially robberies, we feel they're connected 
to drugs," said McNorton. "What we're finding when we do catch some 
offenders is that they're also drug users. They're robbing these 
places to get some quick cash in order to buy drugs."

Many times, he said, those trying to steal money have weapons.

"Obviously, it's a concern to us," said McNorton. "Many of the 
robberies, what we're seeing is they're doing it with weapons. Knives 
and sometimes guns. So the danger factor is a concern to us."

Bashir said it turns out the man who tried to rob him Friday didn't 
have a gun. He said he opened the till for the thief, but the robber 
left when a customer walked in. About 45 minutes later, Bashir said 
he was on the phone with police when the man returned.

The guy reached over the counter and went for the cash register. 
Bashir said he dropped the phone and wrestled with him. Bashir 
grabbed a baseball bat from behind the counter. The man ran off 
before he could use it.

But the second robber, who came in Sunday morning, had a "long 
knife," said Bashir. He got away with about $250.

Break and enters and attempted break and enters also took a big jump, 
from 120 to 178. The number of motor vehicle thefts and attempted 
thefts grew from 33 to 41.

Crimes against persons increased from a total of 161 in February 2007 
to 169 reported occurrences last month.

Possession of stolen goods offences increased from 28 to 29.

Police said criminal harassment complaints remained constant at six, 
while other violent incidents increased from 49 to 56.
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