A Chemainus business owner is sounding the alarm about crime in the region after $100,000 worth of gold and silver jewelry was stolen from the Highway Antique Barn on the Trans-Canada Highway at Henry Road.
Kevin Smith said his business was broken into during the early-morning hours of Feb. 17 and three glass cabinets were smashed. Thieves were in and out within a matter of minutes.
“They knew exactly what they wanted,” Smith said. “They took all of our gold and silver. All has now been removed from the premises.”
The doors at the front of the building were ripped out to gain access. The doors were both bolted in at the top, but that didn’t stop the thieves.
“They boldly do what they want,” said Smith. They just plowed them, ripped them right out.”
He called police and an investigator examined the scene, but he hasn’t heard anything since. Police also did not reveal any information to the public of the incident through the media.
“I think it’s time we let people know,” Smith confided. “If anyone else in this area has experienced anything, let’s get together and have an action plan.
“We have to take things into our own hands. We’re sitting ducks, especially on the highway. It’s a fast getaway.”
Smith proposed security measures need to be intensified.
“The more cameras you put out, the smarter they get,” he said.
Most of the thieves, he added, are aware of the presence of security cameras and can easily avoid them or wear balaclavas and dark clothing to conceal their identities. A better solution, Smith indicated, might be for businesses to chip in for a full-time security guard to monitor several neighbouring businesses.
There was also a car-jacking at knife point the previous weekend at the Haida-Way Restaurant directly beside the Antique Barn to the south. Police did not issue any information or alert to the public about that incident because the General Investigation Section working on the case thought its ongoing efforts might be compromised.
Information on two other serious crimes in the vicinity late last year and earlier this year was released, including the theft of an ATM machine at the Co-op gas station, again right next to the Antique Barn on the north side.
Smith said he’s “heard nothing, no single follow-up at all,” since the Antique Barn theft, but didn’t expect it.
“They’ve overwhelmed,” he said of the police.
And often when police do identify and arrest criminals, they’re right back on the street with no consequences from the justice system.
It’s another big hit in the post-COVID restriction time for Smith and other small businesses trying to recover.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “And the B.C. government has obviously nothing in the budget for small business owners. Everyone gets money but us. We are the ones that are probably suffering the most.”
Smith plans to soldier on and hopes everyone in business and the community will be on guard to combat theft all the more after knowing about this incident.
“We love what we are, where we are and what we do,” he said.
As a precaution now, “absolutely no gold or silver is left in the building,” Smith added. “We take it all out.”