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Cops and citizens team up to take a bite out of downtown crime

Police make two arrests in a raid on a site that chopped stolen bikes and sold them for scrap

Main Street businesswoman Bonnie Zufelt has had enough of downtown crime, so she was happy today when North Bay police raided a bicycle "chop shop" across from her business, Partner's Billiards, and made two arrests.

She says the former hotel is a hotbed for drug dealers and thieves.

"I've been here for 17 years and the nonsense has been getting worse and worse every single year," Zufelt told BayToday. "There are a number of units over there with drug dealers. Some days there are 50 to 60 people going in there and you can see the transactions. Sometimes they are just lined up."

This morning police cracked down on a couple involved in a "chop shop" for bicycles.

Zufelt says people who are "not outstanding citizens" bring in stolen bikes which then get chopped up and brought to a local salvage company,

"Last weekend there were at least 40 bikes that were there and it breaks our hearts to see them chop these things up into little pieces then sell them for scrap. Many bikes are high end and a lot are kids bikes. How many parents out there work hard to get money to buy them for their kids, then have them stolen." 

Zufelt says it's not just bikes but also a lot of baby strollers.

"The crime that it brings to this end of Main Street is unbelievable. It's so out of hand I just spent another six grand on cameras for outdoors. The landlord over there should be ashamed of himself."

Zufelt decided enough was enough and decided to fight back.

"They are drug addicts, drug dealers, thieves, and criminals and finally we lit up Facebook this week with pictures. The community came down here and took pictures and they were posted and posted and posted. They knew I was taking pictures and videos of them and they just didn't care."

The property owner, Anthony Koziol, spent the morning going through security video for police and says he's also frustrated by the criminal and drug activity.

"Unfortunately there are many individuals in our society that don't want to abide by society's rules, and they will not only deal drugs and chop up bicycles as evidenced here on the property this morning, and in the end, there are a lot of victims out there that had their bikes stolen. These individuals would rather go and violate the rights of citizens in my building by doing this stuff.

"There is more and more an attitude of 'no fear' in these individuals and the police are overwhelmed trying to deal with various situations whether its drug dealing or bicycle theft or break and enters. The basic problem is individuals in our society are not fearing anything anymore and you can pass all the laws you want but they have to be enforced and police trying to do paperwork on a simple theft is overwhelming and they'll spend more time on paperwork than trying to deter people from doing things."

Koziol also laid blame at the feet of elected officials.

"Politicians are the ones that pass the rules and policies that teach people that it's okay to go and do this or that. They don't fear anything anymore."

Koziol has cameras up at a lot of his properties he says, but it's not a deterrent.  

"They'll go into our stairwells to shoot up. In fact, the police were here this morning dealing with the bike ring chop shop and one of my guys walks in, looks at the video monitor and sees a person sitting in the stairwell shooting up. We tell the police, they walk over and there is someone shooting up, not sitting there smoking a joint, with the police right here. 

"That's how desperate they've become and how fearless they are."

Meanwhile, Zufelt credits the Facebook page North Bay Nighbourhood Watch with sparking action on the situation. 

She calls today's bike bust " a victory for the common people" of North Bay who complained "big time" about the situation.

"That has singlehandedly led to other people in our city that are going out and doing walks at night and picking up needles. They went out last night to tent city and ended up getting bicycles, a generator, had people arrested. So the citizens are taking control of this. If we don't have enough police resources, then we have to take action as a community."