It’s dangerous to ride a bike in Weston. It’s even more dangerous to walk.
In the past three weeks, there have been at least six muggings, swarmings, robberies and assaults in the Weston area. There were three in just the past week. Most have happened on the periphery of Weston, but several have happened on major streets, and many have happened in the day or in early evening.
The most frightening incident happened on September 8 at about 10 pm. A 33-year-old man walking at the intersection of Weston Rd at St Phillips was approached from behind, blinded by a sweater thrown over his head, and stabbed and beaten. He was unable to give a description of the man who assaulted him, and police are giving no motive for the attack.
In all of the other cases, muggers attempted to steal property. On September 18, three men entered Seif Halal Food Market, also at the intersection of Weston and St Phillips. One brandished a handgun and struck one of the three victims with the butt of the pistol. They stole keys to the store and to a car, and fled.
There were also two swarmings. In the first, a young man was swarmed at Trimbee Park by a group of eight people who stole his cell phone. In the second, four men approached a young couple leaving Maple Leaf Park at 2:20 in the afternoon at intersection of Culford and Rustic Rds. The 16-year-old woman was grabbed, and the group stole her cell phone.
A 26-year-old employee of the Roger’s Store on Wilson Ave also had his phone taken. Two men entered the store and took his phone from the counter. There was a struggle, but both assailants were able to escape. The employee was not injured.
A 17-year-old was also mugged nearby the day after. On September 20th, two men approached him from behind and searched through his pockets. They fled empty-handed.
Dozens showed up tonight to rid the corner of King and Elm of bad vibes—and to show their support for both the proprietors of Olympic Variety and local residents, who have put up with a fair bit of violence of late. Suri Weinberg-Linsky, the organizer, called the event “a community hug”.
Weinberg-Linsky is a business owner herself; she runs Squibb’s Stationers on Weston Rd. She said that she was motivated to bring people together because “as a store owner, there’s always that fear, when you’re by yourself, that somebody’s going to come in and rob you.” Olympic Variety was robbed by three young men two weeks ago. One of the owners, Helen, was injured in the robbery.
About 80 people came to show they have also had enough of violence in the community. Sgt Jason Craft of 31 division and Councillor Nunziata attended and showed their concern.
Sgt Craft took some tough questions from the attendees, some of whom grilled him about insufficient police presence in the neighbourhood and the results of the investigations.
Craft was sympathetic, but couldn’t make promises. He said “I can’t speak in terms of specifics with those investigations because those are ongoing.”
In spite of media giving the impression that crime is on the rise in the city, official statistics are painting an interesting picture of crime in the two police divisions that Weston sits astride.
Weston south of Lawrence falls into 12 Division; above Lawrence, Weston sits in 31 Division.
Looking at crime indicators year to date, crime is down overall throughout the city of Toronto. Robberies and assaults are down slightly while auto theft and theft over $5000 are down by about 16% compared to last year at this time.
In 12 and 31 divisions, the numbers are slightly different. Because Weston sits in two large police divisions it is difficult to know the specific crimes that happen in our neighbourhood.
Assault and Break and Enter
The charts show that in 12 Division, assault and break and enter are higher while everything else is lower. Conversely, Break and enter crimes are considerably lower in 31 Division while robberies have increased.
What we can learn from this is unclear. While we can take comfort from a lowering of crime across the city, we should be alert to any upward tendencies such as can be seen here.
The perception and the reality of crime are two different things. These figures from Toronto Police help us understand that.
Four people have been arrested for breaking into cars in the Weston area. Police charged them with “hundreds of offenses”.
If you live in Weston, you’ve probably had your car burgled. I have, several times. The thieves worked the neighbourhood at night, checking cars for unlocked doors. They generally took only small things, and were completely indiscriminate. I had a wallet and an iPod stolen, but I also lost nine cans of beans and a handful of loose change stuck to the console with spilled pop. My $600 stroller was left behind.
Graciously, the crooks never broke windows or jimmied locks; I often speculated that they felt just differently about private space—but perhaps I am too generous. I know my neighbours and I chalked our losses up to our own stupidity and seldom reported them, so maybe the burglars thought they could shear we sheep many times, but only skin us once.
There is no guarantee, of course, that these were the same crooks as worked Weston. The announcement was made by 12 Division, which includes only the southernmost part of Weston.
Olympic Variety, at the corner of King St and Elm Ave, was robbed at about 1:30 this afternoon by three young men. One of the proprietors, a woman, was injured in a scuffle.
At least five police cruisers arrived quickly to the scene, and the canine unit was brought in. The store also has video surveillance.
The injured woman was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, to which she was able to walk.
This is the second violent incident on King St within seven days. Last week, there was a drive-by shooting very near the same intersection. Five shots were fired in broad daylight. Weston has also suffered another robbery and a mugging within the last week.