Stores and restaurants in Brampton are now shortening their business hours due to the frequent robberies in the city.

“A couple of employees that were there, it did spook them. Three gentlemen came in covering their faces with handkerchiefs and they jumped over the front counter,” Alec Preventis, manager of Mackay Pizza said referring to an attempted robbery on Jan. 5.

Preventis said the restaurant located on North Park Drive and Mackay Street was one of the three places that had an attempted robbery on the same day between 1-3 a.m.. He said the restaurant owners are closing earlier to ensure their staff’s safety.

According to Peel Police’s website, robberies in the region increased by 27 per cent between 2016 to 2018.

In 2016, the recorded number of robberies were 827. In 2017 the number increased to 903 and in 2018, there were 1,051. Though police statistics online indicated a possible slight decline in 2019. Final numbers for 2019 are not available yet online.

“In this plaza, Sobeys used to be 24 hours, Shoppers Drug Mart used to be open ‘till midnight. Within the last year, they started closing early, so it took us some time to realize we were the only store in the plaza past 10:00 p.m.,” Preventis said.

Camilla Silva, an employee at Sobeys said that the grocery store’s hours were changed to also ensure the safety of her co-workers and the customers that shop there.

“You hear about all of these robberies happening so close to you and it’s scary. It can happen to anyone and I’m glad this store doesn’t have late hours anymore because the thought of even walking back to my car after work scares me,” Silva said.

Silva doesn’t know why the robberies happen but blamed a growth in population in the Peel Region. Basically, more people means more potential for robberies, she said.

According to Peel Region’s website, the Region of Peel grew from roughly 1.3 million to 1.5 million people from 2011 to 2018 and is projected to grow to two million by 2041.

Fernando Reyes, a Peel resident for 25 years and a volunteer at Safe City Mississauga said he’s surprised robberies are being reported on a daily basis within the region since Sept. 2019. He also said that Peel Police continues to report these crimes but feels like they aren’t doing much about it.

“Small businesses are the ones who are impacted the hardest. I feel like increase in population does lead into more criminal activity,” Reyes said.

On Jan. 24, the Ontario government announced it would be funding Peel Police with 20.5 million dollars to help combat crime and increase community policing.

“I hope that it helps with more personal training and funding for organizations to help communities and businesses feel safer,” Reyes said.