Eugene Pan points out the car-long scratch on his family’s Honda Odyssey. The van was scratched and the tire flattened (by damaged valve) on May 15. Upon getting it repaired, it was damaged again on Aug. 1. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Blocked out: Saanich resident can’t join Block Watch

Saanich family feels targeted, vulnerable

A Saanich father who’s been the target of multiple cases of vandalism is wondering why he’s unable to join the Block Watch program in his neighbourhood.

Eugene Pan and family reside on Kent Street off Carey Road where they’ve been the victim of multiple acts of property vandalism this year.

“We don’t feel safe,” Pan said. “I went to a Block Watch introductory meeting in April then applied to join. I was told the [neighbourhood] captain would get back to me, but we never heard from anyone.

“This is like a private club, I don’t get how they can run something like this?

The idea to join Block Watch started with ongoing cases of property vandalism outside the Pans’ Kent Street home.

Pan’s security camera recorded several incidents, including four separate acts of vandalism just after midnight on March 12. It began with what seemed like a random act as someone tore a low-hanging motion-sensor light off his driveway entrance and then smashed the mirror of his car. Then what looks like the same person returns several times to remove another security light and then runs something sharp along the side of Pan’s car, effectively “keying” it from back to front.

Then on May 15, Pan’s other family vehicle was damaged. This time, he got it fixed and on Aug. 1, it was damaged again, a single scratch once again running along the length of the driver’s side.

RELATED: Saanich introduces Park Watch program

In the meantime, Pan attended a second Block Watch meeting hoping to learn why he hadn’t been contacted by the local captain, stating he has no criminal history, one of the main stipulations for denying membership.

Neither Saanich Police, which is the local member of the Block Watch Society of B.C., nor the society itself, are at liberty to share the name of the captain, citing privacy issues.

In addition, people applying to join their local Block Watch group also have to pass a suitability clearance.

Spokesperson Sgt. Jereme Leslie said Saanich Police confirmed there is an existing Block Watch Group for Kent Street.

“It appears the group didn’t wish for this particular neighbour to join,” Leslie said. “We attempted to mediate this situation to try to bring harmony to the neighbourhood, however, this was not successful.”

What Saanich Block Watch did offer was a type of “mini Block Watch” in which Pan and his family would be a group unto itself. They could report to Saanich Block Watch but would not liaise with the established group on his block.

“I don’t see the point, Block Watch is about neighbours looking out for each other,” Pan said. “I already look out for my own house.”

Leslie pointed out that Saanich Police can’t impose the Block Watch program on neighbourhoods.

“Participation in Block Watch is voluntary and a resident can decline the partnership with their neighbours,” Leslie said.

For Pan, it’s odd that a socially funded program – Block Watch operates through grants from the Ministry of Justice – can allow its leaders to decide on who joins the local chapters without any oversight into the decision process.

“I feel like someone is abusing the program,” Pan said “They’re not letting me in and I don’t think it should be a secret organization,” Pan said. “It’s not a private club, so theoretically, everyone should be able to join it as long as you don’t have any criminal record.”

reporter@saanichnews.com