Oshawa business owner praises improved police responses, but blasts follow-up after third break-in since 2018

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Published October 14, 2021 at 2:33 pm

Longtime north Oshawa video game retailer G.A.M.E.S. suffered yet another overnight break-in on Thanksgiving Day when the store was robbed for the third time since 2018.

Police say two men shattered the Simcoe Street store’s display window after several attempts, inflicting significant damage to the surrounding frame around 3:30 a.m. on October 12. They then squeezed between two large display cabinets to enter the store and made a beeline to the retro video games section.

The thieves made off with potentially thousands of dollars worth of NES, Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 cartridges, according to store owner Jesse Manchen, but didn’t touch the till.

Manchen says this is typical of break-ins, a lesson he’s had to learn only recently. “The first ten years I was in business, there was only one or two. In the last couple of years, my glass has been shattered four times. Three of them were attempted robberies.”

G.A.M.E.S. opened in 2007, becoming a centre of Oshawa’s video and card gaming community in the years since.

In November 2018 numerous games were stolen during a break-and-enter. The more recent robbery happened in March 2019 when thieves made off with nearly $20,000 worth of Magic the Gathering cards.

After each event Manchen says he’s not once been impressed with the police response. “I have had really bad situations where they just don’t show up,” he says, “For the first break-in it took over an hour for someone to show up and I had to flag down somebody.”

This time though police arrived within a few minutes, a marked improvement according to Manchen. “Because they were really pathetically poor years ago, I’ve noticed significant improvement,” he said, adding that he’s glad to see quicker response times from local police. “That being said, I see almost no results.”

Manchen says some of the games taken in a previous robbery were offered to A&C Games in Toronto. While A&C declined to buy, they took the sellers’ information, including his name and phone number, and reported it to Manchen. He in turn told police, but said “I still never heard anything back. Ever.”

Durham Police is asking Durham Region for more resources to hire more frontline officers in the 2022 budget. But Manchen doesn’t believe this initiative would help much. “There’s something missing in the legal system to actually put these criminals to the damn wall,” he said.

There has been a rash of similar break-ins in recent months. Durham Police put out a warning to residents after five B&E’s in Whitby over the long weekend. Manchen called 20 similar businesses to warn them of his missing stock. He says each one told him they were adding security measures after incidents like this, including one two weeks ago in Hamilton.

G.A.M.E.S. remains open for business, but may not see repairs for up to eight weeks. Manchen says he will be barring his windows in the future.

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