Robberies down at banks and convenience stores

Ottawa police credit more sophisticated security measures and small amounts of cash in the till for a significant drop in holdups.

Ottawa Police say bank holdups dropped 72 per cent over last 4 years

Better security is making typical targets for thefts and armed robberies less attractive, say police. 2:33

Ottawa police say thieves are avoiding the classic holdup and holdup spots, prefering the street for their robberies.

Typically, convenience stores and gas stations have been targets but over the past four years bank robberies have fallen 72 per cent and retail robberies are down 33 per cent.

When Sajid Mahmood was thinking of taking over a Quickie convenience store on Parkdale Avenue last year, he hesitated because the last owner was robbed several times — in one incident by a man wielding a knife and in another, by a group of men who "flash robbed" the store.

But Mahmood said he's been pleasantly suprised during his time at the store.

"I took over six months ago and since then until now not even single incident, not even theft in this store, which is very great news." 

In fact, there has not been one theft at any of Quickie's 50 locations in Ottawa in the past five months.

Digital security cameras, controlled access doors, panic buttons and a limited amount of cash kept in the register appears to have deterred would-be thieves, said Chris Wilcox, the manager of Quickie Convenience Stores.

Sgt. Michael Haarbosch of the Ottawa Police's robbery unit also said security systems at banks are so advanced now robbers can only get away with roughly a few hundred dollars — which is not worth the risk of anywhere from a year or more behind bars if caught.

"There's more money now in almost doing a robbery for an iPhone than there is in doing a bank robbery," he said.

He said Ottawa police are seeing a rise in personal thefts on the street. The target: generally people's electronics, which are easily pawned.