Chinese community forms neighbourhood watch

Group says reporting break-ins can be a challenge for new immigrants in the area


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Xiong Deng stands with one of the area’s new Neighborhood Watch signs

After a rash of break-ins in the Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road area, Chinese residents have taken it upon themselves to form a neighbourhood watch group to keep tabs on any suspicious activity.

Approximately 800 locals belong to the Bayview York Mills Chinese Community (BYMCC), a residents’ association that is bordered by the 401 to the north, Leslie Street to the east, Yonge Street to the west and Lawrence Avenue East to the south.

Xiong Deng, co-founder of the BYMCC, said language barriers are a problem for many new immigrants in the neighbourhood. So the group decided to put up Neighborhood Watch signs to help with communication.

“Last month, before we put the signs up, there were four or five break-ins in one week. One of the homeowners was home around 10 p.m. during one of the robberies. About a week later, two houses beside that house were robbed,” said Deng. “In our neighbourhood, a lot of new immigrants’ husbands are still in China. So it’s the wife and the kids in the home, so this really makes those people worried.”

“Last month, before we put the signs up, there were four or five break-ins in one week.”

John Nicholls, from the York Mills Gardens Community Association, said there have been recent break-ins near Fifeshire Road as well as on Heathcote Avenue, Old Colony Road and Northdale Road.

“They’re not all Chinese owners, but the majority of them are,” noted Nicholls.

The BYMCC held a public meeting in Trinity Church last month to discuss the series of break-ins. Approximately 100 people attended, along with ADT Security Services, Toronto Police Service’s 32 and 33 Divisions and crime preventions departments. 

BYMCC has also started a group on WeChat, an app similar to Facebook, that allows everyone in the neighbourhood to communicate. “We have a WeChat, and if any suspicious persons or cars are in our neighbourhood, we will talk about it, and people who know English will call the police,” said Deng. “We have a pretty good relationship with 33 Division. We also requested a few years ago for a Mandarin-speaking officer. Now they have two officers who speak Mandarin.” 

Staff Sgt. Bryan Campbell with 33 Division said police have been working with residents to help homeowners make their home less attractive to people looking to break-in. “It can be as simple as putting motion lights or security cameras up,” Campbell said.

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