‘I’m at a loss’: St. Vital business owner wants action on crime after series of break-ins

A Winnipeg woman is calling for action on crime after enduring multiple break-ins to her St. Vital business over a four-month period.

Nikki Sherwin, owner of Woofs n’ Wags dog daycare, said her business has been broken into six times since December, with $15,000 to $20,000 worth of goods and cash stolen.

Repairs and new security measures have cost her upwards of $30,000 so far, she says, and she expects that number to climb. On Wednesday night, her new awning, which she has been saving up for, for several years, was vandalized.

“I’m at a loss – am I going to lose my sign now?” said Sherwin. “I don’t know if it’s reparable.”

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Sherwin said her insurance provider only covered the first break-in, and any subsequent claims will mean her coverage is unlikely to be renewed. She has been paying for the damages out of pocket, and hasn’t made a profit in four months.

Sherwin said the incidents are especially disheartening after years of building her business all on her own, and have taken a major toll on her mental health.

“It’s depressing. It has made me anxious. I have panic attacks now.”

She has installed cameras and shutters, but it hasn’t stopped the building from being vandalized every night for more than a week.

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Sherwin also stopped teaching obedience classes at night, after a terrifying incident where a woman attempted to get in while she was closing up.

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“There was a person at my door, banging (on the glass) – lightly at first, saying she needs water, she needs a taxi, ‘let me in, I have to go to the bathroom’… She escalated in her behaviour for the next about 35 to 40 minutes, to the point where she was boldly smashing at my glass.”

Sherwin says the woman left by the time police arrived, 45 minutes after she called. Winnipeg police were not available for comment on Thursday.

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More on Crime

Sherwin’s area councilor Brian Mayes says police are often limited in what they can do.

“We have certainly increased the police budget,” said Mayes. “I think it’s more priority-setting. They don’t just go around and patrol, there’s much more strategy to it.”

Mayes has advised police to treat Sherwin’s area as a “hot spot,” meaning officers will patrol the area more often when they are not on calls.

But Sherwin wants change at the political level, and believes more officers and more resources are needed.

“The safety of all our citizens has got to be a priority,” she said.

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