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Ryerson-area crime rate up, cops report

“I’ve never felt safe around Ryerson,” student says

By Rob Granatstein

Crime is up substantially in the Ryerson area over last year and crime season is just beginning.

“At Ryerson there are more occurrences (of crime) during the school year, especially September and October,” said Police Constable Otten, crime analyst at Metro Police 52 Division.

Crime on and around campus usually increases during September because students are carrying more money for books and activities and they haven’t spent all their cash on beer.

Last September alone there were 15 thefts, five assaults, and 14 reports of harassment on campus. Through May, June and July of this year there were eight thefts and one harassment offense reported.

The library and lockers are especially prone to theft.

“If you leave it unattended, expect someone else to take it,” said Karen Craig, Ryerson’s security manager.

The new school year brings an influx of students who are new to the city, many from towns with populations that pale in comparison to Ryerson’s.

Otten said they’re unfamiliar with the city and often make themselves susceptible to crime by going places they shouldn’t or by having their guard down. 

“I think Ryerson is pretty safe,” PC Otten said, “but you shouldn’t be walking around at 3 a.m. half drunk, because you are a target.”

Metro Police figures show that robberies in the Ryerson area are up 68 per cent, assaults are up 19 per cent, and thefts are up 32 per cent through the first seven months of this year compared to the same period last year.

The area examined stretches just beyond Ryerson’s campus, from Dundas St. north to Cartlon St., and from Yonge St. east to Jarvis St.

These statistics were released to The Eyeopener just two weeks after Statistics Canada reported Metro Toronto’s 1994 crime rate is down 7 per cent from 1993.

Police were quick to shoot down StatsCan’s results, saying over the past five years violent crime in Metro is up 10.9 per cent and property crime is up 7.9 per cent.

The rate of crimes being reported is also decreasing, according to StatsCan. There were 5 per cent fewer crimes reported to police in 1994 than ‘93, the third consecutive annual decrease.

In addition, in 1994 police stepped up their patrols on Yonge St., north of Dundas, in response to merchants’ concerns about crime.

Sue Lem, manager of the Locker Room sports store on Yonge, north of Gould, said shoplifting incidents have dropped at her store.

She credits an alert, well-trained staff, and an improving economic situation, adding there are now bars on the windows of her store.

“Ever since the riot we’ve had bars on the windows,” she said, noting that has reduced break-ins. The Yonge St. riot was a result of the 1992 Rodney King verdict in L.A.

Andrea, a student in her graduating year at Ryerson, made a withdrawal from an outdoor bank machine in the College-Spadina area during broad daylight, in late July.

Moments later she was knocked to the ground by a teen. Her wallet fell to the sidewalk. A second teen picked up her wallet and dashed down the street with his accomplice – and her money.

But even after being robbed in her own neighborhood, known as The Annex, she doesn’t fear the area. She does fear the Ryerson area. 

“I’ve never felt safe around Ryerson,” she said, noting the number of young hoodlums, bums and prostitutes in the area.

Andrea, who didn’t want her last name used, said she always takes extra precautions while at school, especially at night.

“I have a friend who lives on Mutual Street. He walks me to the streetcar and I worry about him walking back home,” she said.

The Ryerson area is a strange location for a university.

To the west is Yonge Street, Toronto’s most famous thoroughfare. It also has a reputation of sleaziness and danger in the downtown area, particularly around Ryerson. The street features panhandlers, vagrants, and drunks.

To the east is Jarvis Street, where, come nightfall, there is a hooker for everyone, and pimps not far behind.

Sex for sale comes in many shapes and varieites along Jarvis. Straight. Gay. Transvestites. 

For a very special treat there is always a prostitute standing beneath the Rent-A-Wreck sign a half-block north of Ryerson’s student residence on Gerrard.

“The prostitutes may look friendly, but their pimps have absolutely no sense of humor,” said Craig, Ryerson’s security guru.

The adventurous may want to take a trip to Jarvis and Dundas, southeast of campus, where the drug trade can be monitored.

Or try the Eaton Centre, where there have been 1,252 thefts in the first eight months of this year.

In the Ryerson vicinity there were 528 thefts during the same period.

“The Ryerson area gets a lot of crime spinoff from the Eaton Centre, which is one of the worst in the city for robberies,” Otten said.

On July 23, 1994, Simone Sandler went to work on the Yonge St. strip, between Dundas and College, recruiting movie extras.

She never made it home.

The 21-year-old Thornhill woman’s corpse was found floating in the Keating Channel near Don Rdwy. a week later.

Her shorts and knapsack were missing. She was strangled to death.

Her killer is still at large.

Crunching crime numbers’95’94%
Sexual Assaults56-16.7
The hard facts on Ryerson crime from January to August for the past two years. The stats cover the area bordered by Yonge, Carlton, Jarvis and Dundas Streets.

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