Surge in reports of business break-ins
A string of business break-ins has Merritt RCMP on alert.
The latest theft of a Dyson hand dryer from the women’s washroom trailer at the B.C. Visitor Centre at the junction of highways 5 and 97C is one of several similar crimes recently.
The locks on the trailer door were cut with power tools sometime overnight on Jan. 18, according to an RCMP press release.
In the last month-and-a-half, six businesses were reported broken into.
Shortly after midnight on Jan. 1, RCMP responded to two businesses for break ins, one at the Dollar Mart on River Ranch Road and one at Kolors Cutting Lounge.
In both cases, the front doors were smashed in to gain entry, and both were in the early morning hours on New Year’s Day.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Sheila White said neither of the break-ins netted the thieves much — only loose change was swiped from Kolors, while nothing appeared stolen from the dollar store.
Dollar Mart owner Marlene Stewart got the call from her alarm company that the store had been broken into around 3 a.m.
“It looked like they used a crowbar to smash the glass in the door,” she said. adding that it looked like the fire alarm panel had been tampered with, leading her to believe the suspects were trying to disable the security alarm.
However, police were on the scene in minutes, and Stewart said nothing of value was taken.
“I think they were probably after cash and lottery, because what else would you take out of here? They’d have to get a U-Haul to make it worth their while. What are they going to do, go to the bar and say, ‘Do you want to buy a spatula?’”
Stewart said it was the first time the store has been broken into in the eight years she’s owned it, which she speculates is because traffic at the 24-hour Tim Hortons behind her store has deterred thieves.
However, the coffee shop was closed that night for New Year’s Eve.
Damages to the door and wiring totalled about $600, which would have just about broken even with Stewart’s deductible had she submitted a claim.
While no one was charged in the break-in, White said RCMP have suspects in mind.
“We do have a core group of people that like to do break and enters, and if they’re in town or if they’re active then we tend to get a rash of break and enters all at once,” White said.
RCMP also responded to seven residential break and enters over December and laid charges in one.