Vandalism to Businesses in Vancouver: The New Normal?

Vancouver sign

It’s not the threat of vandalism that has many businesses in the Downtown Vancouver area on its toes, but rather the consistency of it. You’ll be hard-pressed to go a single month without hearing about how a local bar had its windows smashed in or how a mom-and-pop shop was tagged with graffiti sometimes simply because of the services they offer. However, with these continuing threats of vandalism grows fear among the community of businessmen and businesswomen just trying to make a living. Just who has been hit in recent months and what can their experiences teach us about preparing for the future?

Back in early December of 2023, there was a mysterious string of vandalism attacks that occurred in parts of both Downtown Vancouver as well as Uptown. One location that saw damage due to these acts of mischief and mayhem was the Downtown Vancouver Community Library, a beloved resource for both adults and children which suffered window damage on their, likely due to the force of a hard object like a bat or a rock.

Equally, Bonnie Brasure, owner of Bleu Door Bakery, recalled the events of her experience with vandalism that same month.

“We had some broken windows around December,” says Brasure. “Unfortunately, nobody was caught, and the damages were around $5k and it took about 5-6 months to repair everything.”

Brasure noted that, while they didn’t have any cameras nearby to catch the act, they were lucky that the damage wasn’t worse, as she and her team rolled up their sleeves, boarded up the damaged areas, and continued with their business.

Now, one might begin to think that since both of the attacks were in December, perhaps they were related, or just connected in the sense that it was the same group of vandals who were set on causing some chaos during the holiday season. However, recent streaks of vandalism in the Downtown/Uptown Vancouver area show that this might just be the new normal, something that has many businesses in the area worried.

Recently, a Vancouver man entered Brickhouse Bar & Grill in early March intending to ignite a fire at the entrance of the beloved bar, pouring a vinegar bottle of gasoline on the establishment’s “welcome” mat and attempting to light it with fire. As reported by multiple outlets, the suspect, Christopher J. Withey, 39, was denied service earlier in the day due to not having proper identification, allegedly leaving him to threaten employees that he would return to cause destruction, and forty-five minutes later, he attempted just that, throwing the bar owner to the ground in the process of trying to escape. Luckily, a group of patrons allegedly chased down Withey and detained him across the street until authorities arrived.

Now, one would be forgiven for making no connection to this string of attacks, assuming that these vandals and criminals are simply acting to invoke disorder and anarchy in the community. Or, in the case of Brickhouse, an instance of personal vendetta. However, with this being an election year – and a controversial one at that – many fear that this vandalism problem might only grow worse.

For example, it was only a year ago when Heathen Brewing Feral Public House began receiving multiple threats by those protesting a Spring Fling Drag Bunch, only to eventually find that multiple windows and doors had been smashed overnight.

The brewery eventually did go on to set up a GoFundMe account to gather donations to help repair the damages, leaving this statement on their GoFundMe page at the time: “Unfortunately, these people decided to resort to property damage in order to spread their message of hate but this will not affect our staff or our business as we continue to operate and serve the wonderful people of Vancouver.”

Many vandalism attacks are, unfortunately, due to both purpose and sending a message, and are not always random acts. Equally, while freedom of speech and the right to support one’s beliefs are important and even at times necessary freedoms, it does come with risk depending on which groups you unknowingly upset.

This was experienced last Fall by Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church off Mill Plain, who positioned a pro-LGBTQ+ display on their property, which was ultimately met with some type of red paint and smashed to the ground.

In what’s bound to be an interesting rest of 2024, it is important that businesses do their part to help ensure minimal damage to their properties, including but not limited to installing efficient security systems and keeping your area lit brightly to discourage vandals from attacking – they prefer to operate in the dark without any risk of being seen.

Also, one good tip came from a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy recommending that businesses install 3M window film, as it apparently acts to harden the windows and resist, or at the very least minimize breaking. Another consideration would be to install surveillance cameras. It might not help in that instant, but it could provide details and information to prevent future acts of vandalism.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.