A porta-potty was set ablaze on Wednesday night on the construction site of Penticton Toyota’s new building, an area that has seen repeated theft and vandalism lately.
Scott Mayhew, the president of Scott Mayhew Contracting Ltd, who is working on the project, explained that this is the fifth time their porta-potty has been damaged in the past year.
“They have destroyed the porta-potty, they took batteries out of the excavator, broke the lock on a tool shed,” he explained. “For us, it's frustrating to see. We've come into work and they've torn up our porta-potty at night, they’ve ripped the whole lock mechanism off or they'll torch the door handle off.”
“We've had night security, we've had cameras, it doesn't matter. They'll still come in and they still try to bust down.”
Penticton fire crews responded to the incident, finding flames pouring out of the porta-potty, impinging on a small work trailer and cedar fence nearby, according to Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.
“I am glad this didn't spread to the neighbouring property,” Mayhew added.
Drug paraphernalia and needles are left behind in the evening, leaving the cost of cleaning up and repairing the damage in the hands of the companies.
“We've always had all kinds of issues with theft and vandalism,” Penticton Toyota dealer principal Larry Pidperyhora Sr. shared. “I used to have catalytic converters stolen, parts off trucks stolen...four or five trucks damaged in one night and it's a couple $1,000 a truck to repair them."
"And then last August thereabouts, we actually changed up and really beefed up our camera system.”
Since adding a live monitoring security system to the main property at Penticton Toyota, which has security tracking the live feed and an immediate connection to RCMP, the business hasn’t seen any issues.
“That was quite a big investment, but it's going to certainly pay for itself through money. I don't have to spend money every week repairing cars.”
There are plans on adding the same security system to the new building on 2475 Skaha Lake Road once it's completed in March.
But until then, there’s still the ongoing concern of repeated property crime.
This time the costs of replacing the porta-potty, replacing fence posts and panels, removal and re-patching the asphalt, will cost about $5,000, Mayhew shared.
“It's just not a cost that just doesn't ever factor that into jobs. But now it's like we almost have to.”
And the ongoing vandalism and theft has the business owners feeling like there’s no use in reporting it to the RCMP.
“Most of the stuff that happens now, I don't even call the RCMP anymore, to be honest,” Pidperyhora Sr said. “I think there's a lot more crime that's going on than what anyone knows about. I usually just like to report it for an FYI. But I'd be phoning two-three times a week.”
South Okanagan RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter urged how important it is to continue to report to the police.
“I understand that business owners and community members are upset about property crime and vandalism occurring in the community - the police are frustrated as well,” he said in a statement over email.
“While we may not be able to immediately attend to the call due to competing priority calls, it is important that we are made aware of all crimes in the community. There may be an opportunity to gather useful evidence at any given crime scene to solve the crime in question or link the crime to other similar crimes in the community.”
There’s also the option to make use of Online Crime Reporting tool with the Penticton RCMP.
“I also encourage businesses to contact our Community Policing Unit who can guide them through a Security Self-Assessment Tool. This tool will assist business owners with ensuring their businesses are set up in a manner to mitigate the opportunity for a crime to take place. Upon request, we also conduct onsite visits to go through the assessment process with the business owners.”
The Community Policing Unit can be reached through the detachment general phone number at 250-492-4300.