Maryse Carey could not have said anything.
She could have kept repairing the growing number of vandalized lock cases, replacing more and more stolen keys for apartments and vehicles, installing an increasing number of anti-pry plates to reinforce doors – and getting paid to do so.
But Carey, who owns Carey My Key’s lock and key in Moncton, says she can not in good conscience look away from what is driving this unexpected business boom.
She says burglary, vandalism, theft and other crimes are “completely out of hand” in the Moncton area.
And she worries that they will continue, and possibly worsen, unless the growing problem of homelessness and drug use is resolved and police work and support for mental health are increased.
Carey and her husband, Travis, have stores in both Moncton and Dieppe. Carey said she has seen the disturbing trend in both places over the past year. And in the last six months, she said, it has risen.
Broken locks, stolen keys, vandalized coin boxes
“People break locks to get in, people drill coin boxes for washer and dryer, people camp in the lobby, making the occupants of the apartment very uncomfortable,” she said.
“Sometimes they try to open up the electrical compartments, so they break the locks on the electrical compartment, try to get in to steal. They steal keys … left to NB Power, to firefighters in case of emergency.”
Carey said it breaks her heart to see her customers come in week after week to have the same repairs done and keys replaced over and over again.
“One day when a customer came in with eight slices [coin] boxes that had just been drilled, I thought, ‘This is going completely out of hand.’ And I just felt compelled to do something to help them. “
Letter sent to the mayors of Tri-Cities
On Tuesday, Carey sent a letter to the area’s three mayors listing the many types of damage her business has had to repair – and repair – in the past year, asking, “What’s going on with Greater Moncton? What is the source of the problem? And how can we solve it together? “
She asked them to consider meeting with apartment building owners, property management companies and others to discuss the issue.
Friday night, none of them had responded to her.
But Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold’s office responded to a CBC request for comment Friday morning, noting that the mayor had received the letter and forwarded it to the RCMP, “given that they remain responsible for dealing with crime.”
“Unfortunately, with the growth that Moncton has seen in recent years, there are challenges that arise,” Communications Manager Austin Henderson said in the email, noting, “these are not exclusive to Moncton either.”
Henderson said that “dealing with homelessness and drug use in our area is a top priority for the city.”
“The city has taken many steps to address these challenges, but we know more work is still needed,” he said.
“We continue to work with partners who use an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to ensure the basic elements of housing and wrap-around services [such as] mental health and dependency support, secure supplies, poverty reduction … are in place. “
Mayor ‘worried’ about rising crime
Dieppe’s mayor Yvon Lapierre said on Friday that he has been away from the region this week and is “collecting emails.”
“At present, I can only comment that we have been concerned about the rising level of crime in the region,” Lapierre said in an email.
“We are aware of some burglaries in some neighborhoods, but not aware of any of the other issues that Ms. Carey raises. I have already asked our staff to contact the RCMP for more information regarding statistics and crime reports.”
Riverview Mayor Andrew LeBlanc did not comment on Carey’s letter, saying in an email that he was “not available” Friday because of past commitments.
Meanwhile, Carey is working on trying to get things done at grassroots level.
She has been in contact with several residents and businesses and has suggested that they form a committee of business owners, property managers, apartment building owners and residents to bring their concerns to the city council.
She said she knows much has already been done to solve the problems, including increased funding for homeless shelters and reinforced RCMP patrols in the center and in problem areas.
But she believes much more is needed, especially in terms of providing mental health support, which she says is “inadequate, if I may say so.”
“Something needs to be done,” she said. “Before it is completely out of control.