‘Epic’ vendetta over smoking results in vandalism, harassment in Saanich

'Epic' vendetta over smoking results in vandalism, harassment in Saanich

WATCH: A Saanich smoker is the target of increasing harassment that’s seen manure, paint, motor oil and food waste being left all over her smoking spot. Tess van Straaten has the bizarre story.

Michelle Schile knows she should quit smoking but for now, this rock is where Michelle has had her smoke breaks for the last 18 years.

It’s along a roadway near Lochside Elementary School where she works — out of sight from the kids and not in violation of the Capital Regional District’s clean air bylaw. But that hasn’t stopped someone from harassing Schile for the last few months.

“He needs to seek psychiatric help because it’s not normal behaviour,” says Schile. “It’s not rational behaviour.”

It all started back in January when Michelle found the rock covered in mud and manure.

“It was just really bizarre, I came out and there was manure there and I thought that’s weird,” says Schile. “I cleaned it up but every time I would clean it up, a few days could go by and it would keep happening.”

From there, it only got more bizarre — house paint, motor oil, garbage, a bunch of crab shells and even a dead snake.

“I feel like this person is a very passive-aggressive person,” says Schile. “They obviously don’t have the courage to confront me directly.”

Saanich Police were contacted about the vandalism but they weren’t able to identify a suspect. There was no permanent damage to the rock and investigators say the disturbing deliveries don’t meet the threshold of criminal harassment.

Schile decided to take matters into her own hands, hiding a camera by the rock and after weeks of waiting, she finally captured this image of the legs and torso of what appears to be an older man.

“I was really frustrated and I wanted to find out who was doing it and go to the police with it,” says Schile. “This person is breaking the law and polluting the environment.”

Schile decided to leave the mystery man a note. It quickly disappeared and then reappeared with a message on the back saying his wife had died of cancer and there have been six smoking-related deaths in his cycling group. The note also said we “won’t pollute your reading rock if you don’t pollute our air.”

“Anybody dumping oil on a rock like that deserves to be charged with a serious charge,” a cyclist riding by the rock Thursday afternoon told CHEK News.

And after more than 30 items, including fresh manure and mussel shells sometime Thursday, Schile is hoping the man will be caught — and charged — soon.

“It’s very creepy to have someone who knows where you work and knows what you look like and probably knows what vehicle I drive but I have no idea who he is,” says Schile.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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