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Comox Valley residents report theft ring targeting trucks, heavy equipment

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Comox, B.C., business owner John Watt has been distracted from his regular duties lately as he tries to replace a truck and thousands of dollars in new ski equipment stolen in late January from Mount Washington.

The pickup was taken when his son parked it during a ski trip. “He parked it at about midnight and at eight o’clock the next morning went to get his ski gear out of it and it was gone,” Watt says.

The pickup was found burned the next morning on a remote Nanaimo-area road. “[They] probably didn’t want fingerprints on the truck," Watt says.

Watt says the pickup was used for his landscaping business and was equipped with an external fuel tank and a snow plow on the front.

He says the investigating RCMP officer told him his truck was one of a handful stolen off the mountain recently.

STOLEN TOOLS

Alpine Services, which does snow removal on the mountain and transports luggage to chalets, had their office full of tools cleaned out a week ago, according to employee Richard Meads.

“Within a period of an hour they had come in and cleaned out the shop – well over $5,000 worth of tools, including Milwaukee impact wrenches, air impact wrenches, high-end torque wrenches, wireless headphones for our transport department,” Meads says.

He says the thieves were also involved in the theft of several catalytic converters from vehicles parked in the same parking lot where their office is located.

Meads says the thefts hit their small operation hard, and he believes the culprits were professionals. Much of the stolen equipment has already been spotted being sold online, he said.

“We found a lot of our stuff on [Facebook Marketplace in] Vancouver within hours," Meads says. "We maybe think that they’re from Vancouver and definitely pros… they know what they’re doing, they’re quick and organized."

STOLEN ITEM BEING SOLD IN KAMLOOPS

Jake Shepherd can relate to seeing his stolen item being resold online. He was forwarded a listing for his Bobcat T-250 track loader.

“It was listed for sale and they had sent this guy a picture," Shepherd says. "He forwarded that picture on to me."

The $35,000 unit was stolen from his Mount Washington facility and was being sold in Kamloops.

“The pickup that towed it was found abandoned near that same area in Kamloops," he says.

Watt believes his landscaping business has lost nearly $300,000 worth of equipment to thieves over the years despite his efforts to keep everything secure.

He cautions members of the public against purchasing items at reduced prices that they should know have been stolen.

He also knows police are doing what they can but would like to see stiffer penalties involved.

“It’s not going to stop until we catch the people and put them in jail and actually leave them in jail, not do the revolving door,” Watt says.

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