Councillor calls for town hall with police after rash of car break-ins

A Toronto city councillor is calling for a special town hall meeting with police after a rash of car break-ins that has left local residents frustrated and frightened.

Residents in the Bathurst and St. Clair area are 'sick of it,' says Coun. Josh Matlow

Coun. Josh Matlow says he wants to set up a town hall with police to discuss recent car break-ins in the area of Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue West. 'It's been happening for too long,' he says. (CBC)

A Toronto city councillor is calling for a town hall meeting with police about a rash of car break-ins in a west end neighbourhood that has frustrated and frightened local residents.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul's, said residents are tired of seeing broken glass nearly every morning after parked cars are broken into and vandalized overnight in the area of Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue West. 

"People are sick of it. They're scared, and they want some answers," Matlow said on Wednesday.

"I think it's time for the police to come out to the community, discuss what they are able to share about the investigation, but also what people can do to both protect themselves but also to responsibly contribute to the police's investigation."

Broken glass from a car window lies scattered on a street in the Bathurst Street and St. Clair Avenue West area. (CBC)

Matlow said he has talked to Toronto Police Service's 13 Division about the idea of a town hall and he has talked to angry residents. The frequency of the incidents has upset many, he said.

"I would argue that vigilantism is not the answer. It will neither solve the crime nor is it really what kind of society we would like to live in."

Matlow said he wants to make sure that residents and police work together, with residents supporting the efforts of police to arrest those responsible.

"There are a lot of people waking up every morning in fear of what they are going to find on their own street. They're worried about whether or not their car or their neighbour's car is going to get broken into. They're worried about the costs of insurance," he said.

"They're worried about what is going to happen next. But they don't know what to do about it and also they're in the dark about what the police have been doing about it."

Police make 1 arrest

His comments came after Toronto police announced this week that they have made an arrest in relation to a series of thefts and mischief to vehicles in the area of St Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street. 

A man, 45, of Toronto, has been charged with theft under $5,000, mischief under $5,000 and failure to comply with probation. He was due to appear in court at Old City Hall on Saturday.

Toronto police say they have arrested and charged one man in relation to a series of thefts and mischief to vehicles in the area. (CBC)

Residents themselves say it seems like the car break-ins are occurring every day.

'Community is definitely on high alert'

One resident, Mark Vendramini, said he was about to head into work a few weeks ago when he realized his car had been broken into while it was parked in the laneway behind his house. The thieves had rifled through his glove box and centre console.

"I looked in from the other side and saw everything spewed on both my seats. And then, I thought to myself, 'Oh my god, an animal got in the window.' That was my first impression," he said.

"It was a real mess. I don't know what they saw that interested them. They literally came up with about $1.75 in change maybe."

Mark Vendramini, one resident whose car was broken into a few weeks ago, says the thieves 'literally came up with about $1.75 in change maybe.' (CBC)

The car break-in cost Vendramini about $450 in repairs. He said he is leaving next to nothing in his car at night.

"I understand the anger. It's very frustrating," he said.

"The community is definitely on high alert."

'It has been happening for too long'

Acting Toronto Police Staff Sgt. Alexis Edwicker said 13 Division holds community police liaison committee meetings every month to discuss concerns.

She said concerns about car break-ins have been raised at previous meetings.

"This topic has been part of these meetings in the past," she said. "I am of the understanding that there have been arrests made."

In his latest community and city hall update, Matlow said: "I've directly expressed to the police the fear and vulnerability people feel when they don't know what to expect every morning when cars are being broken into, along with the financial cost of those victimized by this kind of crime."

Matlow urged residents to report all incidents to police. "It's been happening for too long," he told CBC Toronto.

With files from Greg Ross, Muriel Draaisma

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