London storefronts are boarding up to prevent break-ins during pandemic

As non-essential businesses in London close during the Covid-19 pandemic, many are choosing to board up storefronts to prevent break-ins.

Some business owners are taking a proactive approach to prevent crime

Some business owners in London's Old East Village have boarded up their storefronts during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Lupton / CBC)

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are becoming increasingly visible in downtown London.

As physical distancing measures keep car and pedestrian traffic to a minimum, most storefronts are now empty, with no staff or customers in sight, which has some business owners worried about being vulnerable to crime.

As a result, many storefront windows are now being boarded up and secured with heavy sheets of plywood to prevent break-ins.

Brett Lucier, owner of Provincial Glass & Mirror Ltd. in London, is often hired to do this kind of work. He says he has seen a spike in calls from concerned business owners in the downtown area and Old East Village.

"They're seeing that it's better to be proactive, rather than reactive," Lucier said in an interview with CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive, adding these kind of security measures are part of a large trend happening in cities across the continent.

"Board-ups are not the prettiest thing, but they're the most functional thing right now," Lucier said.

The entrance to The Root Cellar restaurant in London, Ont is one of several storefronts that have been sealed up during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Lupton / CBC)

Businesses being hit 'multiple times'

Lucier says he's also receiving more calls than usual from business owners who have already fallen victim to a break-in. 

"On average, we would see about seven or eight calls for broken glass on windows or doors on a given weekend," he said.

"But, we're seeing that in a single night sometimes now. And we're seeing some businesses being hit multiple times ... two, three, even four times. And it gets expensive for these owners who are not making income right now because their businesses are shut down."

The owners of Nooner's, an eatery in downtown London, decided to seal the restaurant's windows and doors to prevent break-ins as it shut down during the pandemic. (Chris dela Torre / CBC)

'It looks terrible'

Lucier admits the stark appearance of a boarded-up storefront is not ideal, but understands why so many business owners are asking for his services during the pandemic.

"I always try to tell people not to board up, to be honest. I think it looks terrible. If you see something that's boarded up, you think that they're closed," he said.