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RCMP respond to business owner critical of police response to her being punched by shoplifter

Kate Roxburgh. Facebook photo

Prince George RCMP have responded to a local business owner who vented her frustration with authorities on social media after being punched in the face by a shoplifter Tuesday.

Topaz Bead Gallery owner Kate Roxburgh says she confronted a woman stealing a $300 necklace in her store. She grabbed the woman and two ended up on the street while another customer in the store dialled 9-1-1. The woman then punched Roxburgh in the face, leaving a gash on the bridge of her nose.

“It is so disheartening as all of my fellow business owners downtown deal with this shit on a regular basis and nothing comes of it,” Roxburgh posted on her Facebook page. “We contact the RCMP – no one bothers to come, we deal with garbage, shit, literally, on our doorstep, needles, people stealing and vandalizing our vehicles, leaving our store at night to be faced with groups of four and more shooting up, we fear for our safety every day and still … nothing changes. we all work knowing that at any time a person could come in and steal from us, assault us, and still nothing changes.”

RCMP say social media posts are rarely the full story and “often contain opinions and emotions, and may lack facts.”

Police say they have reviewed audio recordings, time stamped documents and speak with personnel regarding the matter and say the North District RCMP’s Operational Communications Centre got the call at 2:50 p.m.  The caller identified herself as a customer of a retail business on Fourth Avenue and stated that the owner of the business just ran out the door chasing after a shoplifter.

According to the RCMP, the police operator remained on line to try to gain more information about the location and what took place, so that police could be dispatched.  While this was occurring, the owner of the business returned and was advised by the customer that the police wanted to speak to her about the incident that had just occurred.

“The owner advised the customer that she did not want to speak to the police,” according to a statement issued by the RCMP. “With no cooperation from the victim, details of the event, description of the suspect or specific location, officers were not dispatched.”

A short time later, another member of the public called to report that they had witnessed the incident.  With this information, the operator was able to locate the address and phone number of the business.

“The operator called the business and spoke to the owner,” according to the RCMP. “She was very upset and once again advised that she did not want police to assist.  The operator continued to speak to the victim and eventually convinced her to cooperate and speak with an officer.  A police file was created at 3:04 p.m., 14 minutes after the first call to police.”

Roxburgh provided a description of the suspect which was sent to all police officers at that time.

The suspect is described as:

  • First Nations female
  • Approximately 20 years old
  • Long dark hair with blonde streaks
  • 170 cm (5’7″)
  • Slender build
  • Wearing a grey knee length puffy jacket with a red purse

Due to the delay, the incident was no longer in progress and other files were given priority, say police.  When workload allowed, an officer attended the business to obtain a statement from the owner at 6:18 p.m.

“From 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Prince George RCMP received 13 calls for service including this incident,” say police. “There were 34 calls between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.”

 The RCMP also warn against the public taking action when a crime occurs.  According to police, alling 9-1-1 as soon as it is safe to do so and providing details of the incident including a suspect’s description, is the best course of action, the one most likely to result in an arrest, and is the safest.

 “The Prince George RCMP are responsible for policing hundreds of businesses and over 20,000 residences in the City of Prince George,” reads the statement issued in response to this incident. “The police need information from victims and witnesses in order to legally make an arrest of a suspect.  We need the public’s cooperation and timely reporting to be most effective with the resources we have.  Twenty-four hours a day our officers do their best to keep the people of this community, and surrounding communities safe.  Those officers respond to an average of 117 calls for service per day.”

Roxburgh says she has sent a letter to mayor and council asking for something to be done about crime downtown. She has also told local media that she’s had enough and is putting her business up for sale.

“It would be awesome if something came of this that actually helped downtown business owners instead of yet another report or bullshit focus groups – enough,” she posted.

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