Police in Nanaimo are confiscating rising numbers of weapons, some homemade, from members of the city’s street-entrenched population.
Nanaimo RCMP recently photographed a collection of weapons at the detachment, seized over the past few months at homeless camps or from individuals on the streets.
“A lot of the weapons are seized on a daily basis by our bike squad, which does proactive patrols with bylaws [officers] as they’re sweeping through the downtown corridor, finding the trash,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “Bylaws comes by with the city truck to collect the trash and our guys stand by to keep the peace.”
O’Brien said police are continually checking people on the street and if they see items that cause them concern for their own safety or public safety, they’ll seize those items.
Weapons seized include brass knuckles fashioned from a piece of scrap aluminum, machetes made from scrap metal, and weapons crafted from bicycle components, old lawn mower blades and golf clubs. Manufactured weapons seized include knives, baseball bats, a ninja throwing star and even a dagger concealed in the handle of a walking cane.
“The dagger is quite interesting. That’s an old-school item and that’s a very deadly thing,” O’Brien said. “Often we see daggers, but they’re shoved inside boots, so unless you search that individual and check very carefully, you won’t find it.”
He said the people from whom the items are confiscated are often not charged because most are turned over with the owner’s consent and allegedly for personal protection.
“These people who are actively living on the street, they feel they have to defend their property and their property may be their tent, their shopping cart and what not,” O’Brien said. “So that is the reality for people who are living in this no-fixed-address environment.”
The increasing frequency of weapons seizures are due to a number of factors that include rising numbers of people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo and more frequent patrols by police and bylaws.