Auto glass repair shop owners are seeing a significant increase in smashed car windows — and they say you might as well keep your doors unlocked if you want to avoid costly glass replacements.
Vandals are more likely to look for petty change and sift through the glove box before moving on to the next car, said one repair shop owner. Some victims have been needing repeat repairs, so the new advice is to simply take out all valuables and leave things open to deter smashing.
“One guy, he stopped driving his car to work,” said Andy Dunleavy, co-owner of the east end’s London Auto Glass. “He takes the bus now, you know, just to try and save himself some money in the long run.”
Up to 10 customers per week have been coming in for repairs since the start of the pandemic. In June, 10 people visited in a single day after the Shania Twain concert. Two of the customers hadn’t attended the show, but had been parked in the downtown area while it was underway, he said.
There has been some concentration of car windows being smashed in the core, but for the most part the issue is widespread throughout the city, said Dunleavy.
“You could be in Masonville or you could be downtown, or you could be out here on the east end,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. Nobody’s targeting you and nobody’s targeting your area. It’s just rampant.”
Paying ‘out of pocket’ may make sense
The average cost to repair a broken window ranges from $250 to $450.
Pond Mills resident Tim VanDusen woke up over the weekend to find his truck windows smashed and the dashboard pulled out.
“Insurance wanted $300 to put the window in, plus a claim, but without a claim it’s $300, so it just makes sense to pay out of pocket,” said VanDusen.
After filing an online report, he said he’s disappointed with what he calls a lack of police response and is calling for more surveillance.
Both of London’s Standard Auto Glass locations saw between seven and nine jobs each week in June, said manager Jeff Bullas — markedly more than what he was seeing three years ago.
The York Street location sees the majority of smashed windows because there tend to be a higher incidence rate in that area, he said. Underground parking garages in apartment complexes across the city are also popular targets.
“There’s definitely frustration with people because they expect something to be done by the police department, but unfortunately they just get told to file a report and they don’t hear much after that,” Bullas said.
The advice to leave doors unlocked may sound counterintuitive, he said, but it’s better than the alternative.
“Just don’t keep any valuables in there. If they want to take a look, they’re going to take a look anyway.”
Members of the public can report property damage to the London Police Service non-emergency line or make an online report on its website.
When asked, London police refused to provide statistics on the number of smashed auto window reports it received compared to last year, and asked CBC News to file a freedom of information request.