Call it crowdfunding against crime. People in Whitehorse are raising money online, to protect a favourite restaurant from burglars after repeated break-ins.
The idea was a surprise to Antoinette Green-Oliph, who owns the restaurant Antoinette's. She's seen 14 break-ins in the last two years and was cleaning up broken glass yet again, just a few weeks ago.
Green-Oliph says the restaurant's big windows allow good views of Fourth Avenue and Steele Street, but they also seem to invite trouble. People have repeatedly broken them to get inside, after hours.
The online fundraiser was started by friends, and has so far raised $2,950 towards the goal of installing protective metal coverings on the windows. The coverings would allow sunlight to pass through while keeping thieves out.
Green-Oliph has already tried installing cameras, closing off the restaurant's back patio, adding chains to doors, and more. But the thieves "just seem one step ahead of me," she said.
The RCMP don't seem able to help, either.
"They visit, they take notes, they are very compassionate when they are there but I don't know what happens after," she said. "I hate to say it, but I don't really know that they do a lot."
'We need to do something to secure your premises'
That's where Green-Oliph's friends come in, with their idea of crowdfunding for security.
Gary Randal Lachance started a GoFundMe campaign called "Antoinette's Wrought-Iron Rescue." He says he heard about the latest break-ins on Facebook as people were expressing their disappointment.
"There was an outpouring of sympathy. That gives you a sense of how much Antoinette is loved here in town, and the restaurant itself," he said.
"But I thought, I wasn't just going to call her and say how sorry I am. I called and said, 'we need to do something to secure your premises.' She has felt isolated, she has felt victimized."
Green-Oliph says at first she had trouble accepting the help, but then realized she would not have the finances to secure the building herself.
"I know people drive by and they see bums in the seats, but the restaurant business is a hard business. It's not easy to make that little extra," she said.
"Just when you're feeling when you're getting ahead, you get knocked off your feet again. I'll be honest — the last time was extremely disheartening. I actually felt like walking away."
Oliph-Green hopes metal window guards will help. She says Randal Lachance has come up with "fabulous" designs for the coverings.
"Some are suns with rays, and they look really nice — they don't look prison-like," she said.
"I couldn't do that!"