It’s no secret that many residents of Chilliwack are growing tired of the rampant property crime they have experienced.
The group Change for Chilliwack is holding an open information event with speakers and a Q&A session on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. at Ruth and Naomi’s mission.
The idea is to band together over a cup of coffee and proactively share resources to fight crime in Chilliwack.
‘Change for Chilliwack’ was started on Facebook by two locals Shannon Werry and Andrew Kirkpatrick, who noticed that people were increasingly growing frustrated by the high levels of property crime, and how it impacts the community as a whole.
Born and raised here, Werry moved from Greendale to downtown recently. She said she and Kirkpatrick usually witness some form of criminal activity on a nightly basis.
“It’s my home and a beautiful city and I’m proud to live here. What I’m not proud of is how much crime I see and hear about, especially lately,” wrote Werry.
That’s why they started the group. Not just to whine and complain about it, but to take decisive action.
“I can’t believe how fast this has come about,” she said.
The closed Change for Chilliwack group has 600+ members. It’s a ‘closed’ group only so they can carefully monitor membership.
“The rapid growth was pleasantly unexpected,” said Kirkpatrick. “We’re excited to see where it all goes, as the community pulls together to do our part.”
“There are a lot of initiatives that people are not fully aware of,” he said.
Werry said it was her apartment building that made her realize the importance of being proactive.
“A number of residents I talk to had voiced their concerns about the increase of criminal activity in and around our building. People were starting to feel unsafe and myself and a number of other residents even had their vehicles broken into.” People complained to each other but nothing was done.
“I realized then that residents were complaining but no one was approaching the building manager about these issues. They automatically assumed that nothing would be done and the crime would just get worse. One day, I happened to catch my manager and voiced my concerns about the problems within the building.”
She was the first person to bring these issues to the manager’s attention.
“After being heard, the manager promptly took action and we have slowly been noticing a decrease in crime within the building itself.”
The building problem was like a microcosm of the larger problem in the community. Folks were complaining but not taking any action.
“That is when this group was born,” she said.
One of the speakers on Saturday will be Griffen Security owner Brian Goldstone, who has been posting elaborate essays online, using his ample experience with the criminal element and chiming in with concrete crime fighting ideas, without resorting to vigilante justice.
One of the biggest misconceptions, Werry commented, is that the crime rate is completely out of control.
“I think that perception is more because of social media, more people are aware of it. Everyone has access to video and is on Facebook.”
But the constant stream of complaints isn’t accomplishing much.
“Instead of just complaining, why not elaborate and offer some suggestions?” Kirkpatrick added.
The Feb. 27 event is a way to get concerned individuals together in a comfortable forum, with a few speakers, over a friendly cup of coffee.
“Hopefully people will find out there is something they can do.”