A former White Rock councillor says she’ll never park at the South Surrey Park & Ride again, after both of her family’s vehicles were targeted by criminals on the same day.
Louise Hutchinson said her Honda CRV was stripped of parts and her husband’s Honda Civic was stolen on Feb. 21. The vehicles were not parked together, and had been driven to the lot at different times.
“It was just a very bizarre incident,” she told Peace Arch News.
“Two cars from the same family on the same night from a lot (where) you feel you have some kind of protection.”
According to TransLink’s website, the park-and-ride lots are “safe and convenient.”
Media spokesperson Chris Bryan told PAN the South Surrey lot is patrolled regularly, and Transit Police have not recorded any spike in crime at the site. There were eight reports between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, he said, citing seven vehicle thefts and one theft from auto.
However, there are plans to conduct a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design analysis of the site “in the near future,” he said. That analysis will look at everything from foliage to lighting to surveillance cameras and may lead to changes.
A volunteer citizen patrol formed last month is also hoped to deter crime.
Hutchinson questioned the effectiveness of security measures, given the apparent ease with which her vehicles were targeted.
“I think it’s a very intricate operation that they’ve got going there, that they can strip a car, have it loaded up and gone with all those buses going through there,” she said.
Bayview Towing’s Cory Rushinko said his company had received “a few more reports” lately of catalytic converters being taken from vehicles in the South Surrey lot. He noted they can be sold for up to $300.
While last month’s experience won’t stop Hutchinson from using transit, it did strengthen her contention that improvements promised in the upcoming transit plebiscite will do little to ease problems on the road.
If passed, a 0.5-per-cent sales tax is expected to raise $7.5 billion for transit improvements over the next decade, with supporters promising more buses, new routes, faster commutes and improved conditions.
But Hutchinson said its promise of decongestion is “a misnomer.”
“Decongestion doesn’t come by providing more buses. It’s habits of drivers that put congestion on the road. (A transit tax) is not going to make a difference, not at all,” she said.
Whatever happens, she’ll still take the bus, but her parking arrangements have shifted.
“The car’s safer on a dirt road than in a controlled parking lot,” she said.