By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff
Walking through Victoria Park has never been much of a concern for Karen Savard.
A regular patron of the Boathouse, she’s made the walk through the park to her nearby home more times than she can count. But she won’t be taking anymore late-night strolls after being mugged on Aug. 11 while returning from the Kitchener
Savard was walking arm-in-arm with a female friend when they exited the park on the northwest side at 10:45 p.m.
A man, who Savard believes was about 18 or 19 years old, approached them.
“There was one guy coming towards us, and [my friend] just right away grabbed her purse,” she said.
“We didn’t even realize there were two coming up from behind.”
One man pulled the two women apart, while the other two assailants threw Savard to the ground, breaking one of her ribs and snatching her purse, she said.
With Savard lying on the ground, her friend pursued the three attackers, but was unable to compete with their young legs.
The women phoned police, who searched the area but came up empty-handed, according to Savard.
A bystander was able to return a camera that flew out of Savard’s purse during the attack, but her wallet, identification, house keys and cash were stolen.
The women didn’t get a good look at the three men, but were able to tell that two were Asian men in their teens.
She had been selling tickets to the local PhilX concert, and had both the proceeds and several unsold tickets with her at the time.
“All I could think to myself was there’s so many cops down at Bluesfest and they’re all in those tents, but nobody is outside the tents,” she said.
“Nobody is walking the park or anything else. Even the horses, they’re up and down King Street, but they’re not going through the park.”
Savard kept an eye on the Waterloo Regional Police website and the media, but was disappointed to see the public was not informed of the attack, which occurred during a major festival.
The following day, she and her husband drove through the park several times and didn’t see any police on patrol, but did see many women walking alone.
“I’ve walked through there so many times from the Boathouse and nothing has happened. Once it’s Bluesfest, I think the reason why it happened is because they know people are going to have cash on them, people are going to be drinking — it’s the perfect opportunity,” she said.
“It’s funny, you didn’t hear anything about it. It’s almost like nobody wanted people to know.”
After the incident, which has left Savard recovering from a broken rib and necessitated that the family change all the locks to the house, she is nervous about going to the park.
She took her granddaughter to KidsPark — which she said was better policed than Bluesfest — the following weekend, but won’t be walking through the area after dusk unless her husband or another man is with her.
“I think everyone should be more careful walking through the park. And when it comes to big events like that, they need to change something. I think they should have the horses going through the park instead of downtown. I’m sure the horses would like it better anyways,” she said.
“I’m just glad there wasn’t a knife or something like that, but you never know.
“I wouldn’t want to see it happen to anybody else.”