Hansen said the incident is a good reminder for city leaders to see what small businesses are dealing with in downtown Vancouver
For many of us, we do not know what we would do while witnessing a crime. At least not until it happens.
Bart Hansen, a Vancouver City Council member and the executive director of the Building Industry Association of Clark County, did not hesitate last week while visiting a local coffee shop, and he was able to assist in returning some money that was stolen.
Now he can add Crime Stopper to his list of accomplishments.
Not all heroes wear capes. Hansen does not go as far as saying what he did was heroic, but he did act … immediately … when he saw a wrong.
Hansen was in line at one one of his favorite locally owned coffee shops, Compass Coffee Roasting in downtown Vancouver, when he heard a barista shout. He knew from the tone that something was serious.
A thief had just grabbed the tip jar at the counter.
Hansen is seen on surveillance video as one of the first to react. He rushed out of the shop and confronted the thief.
“He turned around and handed it to me,” Hansen said.
Hansen believes the thief did grab a handful of bills from the jar, but Hansen was able to return some or most of the money.
“I have a real problem with stealing from the working class,” Hansen said. “These are good people working their tails off all day long. There’s no standing around in their job. They’re doing a great job of what they do, and somebody steals all of their tips? No.”
The folks at Compass Coffee thanked Hansen for his swift action.
Rahim Abbasi, who along with business partner Shruti Sawhney owns the shop, took a second or two to figure out what was going on after he heard his employee shout.
“I step up to start going … and I see Bart was already (on the move),” Abbasi said. “Bart got to him pretty quickly, which is appreciated. It was awesome to see him react so quick.”
Hansen noted how tough it is to run a small business. Businesses, and employees, can use assistance from their customers if they see suspicious activity.
“I’m happy to help,” Hansen said, adding that it is unfortunate that there are those in the community who resort to grabbing other people’s money.
He said the incident is a good reminder to local leaders of the challenges of running a business.
“They’re trying to get by every day without something new to deal with,” Hansen said. “I think it’s very important as a city council member to experience what is actually happening downtown.”
Abbasi acknowledged that incidents such as this one occur once every couple of weeks at his or neighboring stores.
“It happens to everyone downtown,” Abbasi said.
In fact, it has taken nearly six months for Compass Coffee Roasting to have repairs done after the shop door was damaged by a would-be thief.
While Hansen was grateful he was in position to help, and he hopes others would do the same, he also has a word of caution. There needs to be a balance, he said, noting that do-gooders should not be over aggressive.
He said he does not want to create a world of vigilantes in Vancouver, but he also wants to make sure that Vancouver does not become a city of victims.
Oh, and if you go to Compass Coffee Roasting, Hansen suggests a couple of items off the menu: Ask for “The Fred” or a Muscovado.
And tip the employees, please.
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