Yousaf Shaikh hopped in his car, ready to pick up his son from work.
That’s when he noticed something was wrong. It was about 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5 and when he began to drive, something didn’t feel right.
“I got out (of the car) and then I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” Shaikh said. ”That’s when I realized all the tires have been slashed.”
It was the same story with a second family vehicle, leaving Shaikh stuck, unable to get his son.
“I was really shocked. I understand that these things happen,” he said. “You read the papers every single day about shootings (and) stabbings.”
Crime was part of the reason he moved his family six years ago from Brampton to Niagara on the Green in the Glendale area of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“I thought moving to a small town would be safer,” Shaikh said. “I guess this just goes to show crime can happen anywhere at any time.”
About 90 minutes before he attempted to drive his car that night, security cameras at his home captured an image of what appears to be a male on his driveway.
A loud hissing sound can be heard in the security footage, as the man methodically plunges a knife or sharp object into the sidewalls of the tires on both vehicles.
However, the images are not clear enough to positively identify the culprit.
As a result of the incident, Shaikh has invested in new security cameras and lighting to protect his property.
He has already replaced the tires on one of the vehicles and between the tires and new security equipment, he said he has already spent between $3,000 and $4,000.
His family has been left shaken by the incident. Even putting new tires on one of the family vehicles has sparked a new round of concern.
“What if he comes back and slashes the tires again?” Shaikh asked.
As far as he can tell, his family was the only one to have had this happen to them.
“I Googled it. I found one incident but those are Niagara Falls,” he said.
He filed a report with Niagara Regional Police Service the morning after the incident.
According to police, the suspect in the case is described a white male between the ages of 30 and 40, medium build and about five feet and eight inches tall.
At the time of the incident, he was wearing a white hat, dark coat, dark pants and white shoes.
Police spokesperson Const. Phil Gavin said there are several steps that people can take to protect their property, including:
• Make the effort to get to know your neighbours. A caring and connected community who look out for one another is a powerful defence against crime.
• Install motion-detection or improve lighting where automobiles are kept as a deterrent.
• The use of quality, well-positioned cameras can help identify suspects in the event of a crime.
- Cameras can also be a deterrent. A motion activated trail camera can be an effective moderately priced option.
• Where possible, parking vehicles in a garage will add a layer of protection.
Gavin said it is unlikely that neighbours who have security cameras would be of any assistance to a police investigation as too much time has passed and any footage has likely been overwritten.
In cases such as what occurred to the Shaikh family, it shows that it is “imperative for the public to actively engage in safeguarding their personal property and belongings” to prevent crimes from happening.
“By promptly reporting any suspicious activity or potential criminal incidents, members of the public play an instrumental role in fostering a safer environment for everyone,” Gavin said.
“This proactive approach enhances the strength of the partnership between the community and the police, reinforcing a united front against criminal activities.”