Five assaults and one robbery on adults and children alike in Esquimalt last weekend are just the latest incidents involving unruly teens in the township, police say.
“There’s about 10 youths we’ve been in contact with” in the past month, said Sgt. Grant Hamilton.
On Friday, calls about a group of four to six teens began pouring in to VicPD’s dispatch centre at 9:30 p.m.
A man and woman were approached on the West Bay Marina footpath by three teens with bandanas over their faces, who demanded cash. One pulled a knife and the 55-year-old man’s finger was cut.
Next, a group of teens tried to rob a 34-year-old Esquimalt man on a bike at Dunsmuir Road and Head Street. When the cyclist refused to hand over his money, the teens pulled him to the ground and hit him.
Soon thereafter, a 30-year-old Esquimalt man was punched in the same block when he didn’t provide the teens with a cigarette.
By 10 p.m., police were notified a 10-year-old boy was punched in the face by one in a group of teens, while walking with his mom near Tim Hortons in the 800 block of Esquimalt Road.
Before 11, a 14-year-old boy was sucker-punched while walking home with his mom in the 800 block of Dunsmuir.
Police brought in a canine unit to track the teens and arrested two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old. Officers think between one and three other teens were involved.
The teens are not believed to live in Esquimalt. One gave officers a Sooke address.
Mischief among youth isn’t a problem endemic to Esquimalt, or any community, said Meagan Brame, an Esquimalt councillor and mother of two teens.
“There’s good youth and there’s troubled youth in every community,” Brame said. “It flares up and it flares down, but I wouldn’t paint it as Esquimalt’s problem.”
The teens, Hamilton said, are not related to previous incidents in the past four weeks involving youth getting into trouble. Instead, there’s a problem in Esquimalt where parents aren’t minding their teens.
On Jan. 27, VicPD officers arrested a 17 year old but were eluded by others after a break-in at Rockheights middle school. It was the second break-in at the school in two days.
On Jan. 26, a window at Macaulay elementary was smashed and on the 27th, the boards covering the open window were set ablaze using diesel fuel.
Also on Jan. 26, an elderly woman living in the 1000 block of Munro Street heard glass smash as a large rock came flying through her bedroom window. A 16-year-old was arrested.
Earlier, on Jan. 7, the tires of 31 vehicles, including four police cars, were slashed with a knife. The slashings happened at VicPD’s West Division and near the Archie Browning Sports Centre. Four teens were arrested, age 14 and 16.
“Whether it’s the demographics of Esquimalt, we’re not sure,” Hamilton said, “but there’s definitely more of a problem with youth.”