A business owner in Whalley is frustrated after his shop was once again broken into on Wednesday morning.
Paul Chen is the owner of Centreline Auto in Whalley. The shop sits on 13550, 106th Street, adjacent to the notorious ‘tent city’ in Whalley.
It was the third time that Chen witnessed a break-in since the end of July.
Video from Wednesday shows that two individuals tried to break into his property. That was before an RCMP cars rolled by, forcing the individuals to flee.
“The video shows that they live on the strip committing this petty crime,” said Chen. “It’s out of control.”
The individuals only fled temporarily, returning to the shop to steal Chen’s key box.
Chen said that the other time he had his key box broken into, the thieves took the box back to their tent. He said that police were unable to retrieve the box because they didn’t have the right to intrude in other people’s tents.
While Chen is frustrated, he sympathizes with the police.
“Police can’t do anything about it,” he said. “They are powerless.”
“It’s the system that doesn’t allow them to do it, said Chen. “They are doing their job in protecting us and in dealing with these issues.”
“Unfortunately they don’t have the authority to do it.”
It leaves Chen in a frustrating situation, leaving him unsure of where to turn to.
“Who is the authority here? Can someone with authority step up?”
Chen also wonders what the city can do to help him out.
“The city should have the authority to clean up that stuff,” he said.
“If you live in Surrey, you are affected by this,” said Chen. “Somebody needs to step up.”
Hepner recently vented her frustration yesterday, pushing for the province to deliver on their promise for 150 modular housing units in the area. That, in theory, should take some of the tents off 135A Street.
In the meantime, business owners like Chen are left wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their business.
“When I walk off of my property line I have no authority,” he said. “How can people breaking in have more rights than me when they come onto my property? It doesn’t make sense.”
Chen previously witnessed break-ins on July 28th and on September 23rd earlier this year.
During the break-in on July 28th, an apparent homeless man was smashing his neighbour’s car before Chen was forced to run out and make a citizen arrest.
He also watched a woman suffer an apparent overdose on his property before she eventually got up and walked off.
Despite the challenges, he is optimistic that the fortunes of the area will change in time.
“There are some great people down here helping out the homeless,” he said. “It will get better of course, but when, five or ten years?”
“It’s going to take time.”
In the meantime, Chen is still searching for answers on how to protect himself and his business.
“For now, I’m here suffering,” he said. “This is my business and I have no choice but to accept it.”
“I’m just trying to survive here.”