Calgary music store targeted by thefts and commercial break-ins on the rise

A Calgary business is dealing with the aftermath of an overnight burglary where thousands of dollars worth of product was stolen.

“They broke the windows around 4 a.m., (and) they grabbed whatever was right next to the window,” said John Xie, operator of Musicwork Canada’s West Springs site.

“They came in afterwards, unlocked the front door, then seized a lot of our violins, guitars, amps, and they even took his cash register and his (POS) system, which certainly had a tremendous effect on our day-to-day operations.”

Xie says four Musicwork Canada stores in the city have been targeted by thieves in the past. His location in the southwest last Sunday was the last.

“I was shocked at first, upset for sure, and (I’m) just trying to figure out what we can do,” he said.

According to Xie, about $10,000 worth of items were stolen and restocking the shelves was difficult.

“There will be items like violins and stuff that will take a long time to replace,” he said. “So far what I’ve done is I’ve just dipped into my savings, I’ve paid for any inventory, I can’t fill the shelves, so it looks like a little more normal.”

However, getting the business back to a “normal operating state” could take months as the company waits for insurance claims to be processed and its building repaired.

“On top of that, with COVID-19, (and) supply chain issues, inventory replenishment is also taking a long time,” said Taeho Style, Director of Musicworks Canada and TS Industries.

Style says it’s not just store owners who bear the brunt of burglaries.

“It’s not just one business that’s being targeted. It’s everyone in the community,” he said.

Musicworks Canada is geared towards music lessons and education while offering items for purchase and rental.

“If the students arrive, (want) or if they need an instrument or a book, and we cannot provide them with what they need, it is not only a loss for the result net; it is essentially the impact on the education of the children that we ‘try to maintain the grades.’

Style hopes community members will notice what’s going on around them.

“It’s happening in our neighborhood. It’s happening in businesses in our communities,” he said. “(Knowing what is happening is) an encouragement for community members to be more aware and recognize that these things are happening, and then they can report it to the authorities.”

Although the business has its own security measures in place, Style says owners are limited in what they can do to deter thieves.

“At the store level, for small business owners, there’s kind of a maximum tolerance of what they’re able to do,” he said. “Having more neighborhood patrols by the police would definitely help everyone feel safer.”

While Style and Xie leave the break and enter investigation in the hands of the authorities, they ask the public to exercise caution when buying used instruments.

“Ask for receipts or some sort of purchase log,” Style said.

BREAK AND COMMERCIAL ENTRANCE ON THE RISE

Calgary police say the number of commercial break-ins is on the rise.

In the first three months of 2021, there were 802 break-ins. In the same time frame, for 2022, there were 1,268.

In March alone, in 2021, there were 258 break-ins, while in 2022 there were 468. This represents a 15% increase from the five-year average and an 81% increase from to 2021, according to the police. Adding that these offenses primarily focus on convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants, targeting any on-site cash from a cash register or ATM.

Alice P. Darby