Monday, January 23, 2012

Robbery on the 320 Surrey Central

When I got on the bus at Guildford Town Centre heading towards Surrey Central yesterday afternoon, I never expected to see someone get robbed one-foot in front of me.

Somewhere after going past the high-voltage power lines on 104th Avenue, two white young-adult males and their “girlfriends” got on the bus. These are the kind of people that don’t pay their transit fare. They proceeded to the back of the bus and on the way smacked into another women full-force. They joked about how funny it was to hurt her. Next they set their eyes on the only black person on the bus. I don’t think that it is any coincidence that they targeted a minority. Anyway, they asked the teen if he had an iPod/iPhone because they saw his headphones. After threatening the teenager, they told him that he better hand over his Blackberry. The teen complied. There were about 10 people in the back of the bus that saw this go down. Next, they asked him to empty out his pockets and proceeded to steel his transit tickets. It was at this time that the wannabe thugs asked me if I had anything to give them. I said no and they didn’t bug me after that. They proceeded to rummage through the teen’s backpack.

When the bus was nearing Surrey Central, and I got off and called 911. The teen had a friend with him who also called 911. The good news is that the police caught the bullies and they are appearing in court today. The RCMP is recommending a charge of robbery and I hope the Crown agrees. Robbery is classified as a violent crime. The whole incident left me a bit rattled for a number of reasons.

First, I was almost the victim of crime yesterday. I’ve had my house broken into and (when I had a car) my car broken into in the past. I got over those pretty fast, but there is nothing quit as scary as someone threatening you. I learned yesterday that I’m a runner, not a fighter.

Second, the bullies weren’t trying to steal from the teen because they wanted an iPhone. They stole from him to degrade and humiliate. That was probably the most shocking thing for me. What kind of person gets off humiliating someone half their size?

Third, I was the only 3rd party (beside the teen’s friend) that saw the crime, called 911, went to the RCMP, and gave a statement. What kind of society do we live in when people turn a blind eye to bullying?

Finally, this happened around 4:30pm on a busy bus route on a Sunday! I’ve taking transit full-time for about 5 years in the South of Fraser. I’ve seen stupid things at night on the bus, but I’ve never anything like this. It was a braze crime given the fact that it was committed in broad daylight and in front of so many people. Yesterday's crime got me thinking about how TransLink could make buses safer.

TransLink is in the process of installing camera on all their buses. This is a good thing and helps put people in jail after the fact. But when a crime is taking place, cameras do nothing. When I saw the teen getting robbed yesterday I wanted to do something fast, but I didn’t want to become the next crime statistic in Surrey. It takes about 30 seconds from the time you call 911, to the time you get to Surrey dispatch. That is enough time for your phone to be removed from your person by a criminal. There needs to be a way to silently alert police or TransLink to the fact that I crime is taking place on a bus. I didn't feel safe going to the bus driver. In this day and age, you should be able to text the police or something.

The second thing I noticed is that wannabe thugs don’t pay their transit fare. While TransLink inspects fares all the time on SkyTrain, I can only remember a couple of times that I’ve ever been checked for a fare on a bus in Surrey. There needs to be better fare enforcement on the bus because right now I don’t think TransLink is taking fare evasion on buses in Surrey seriously.

Yesterday was a pretty scary day for me, but I’m not going to stop taking transit or going to Surrey. Considering that I take thousands of transit trips every year, statically transit is still the safest form of transportation. TransLink does need to provide better security on buses in Surrey, does need to implement a silent alert system, and does need to enforce fare payment on its buses. I hope this post does not fall on deaf ears.

1 comment:

Wandering Coyote said...

Well this isn't very heartening...I'm moving to Surrey next week and I am a transit person, too. I don't have a cell phone, either, but am considering getting an el cheapo one just for emergencies.

I have never owned a car and taken transit everywhere I've lived. I have seen a lot of crazy shit, but never anything like you've described here!