‘I was desperate’: Black Creek woman’s stolen excavator found after exhaustive social media appeal

Nanaimo RCMP

Joelena Piket is an aspiring business owner who started Rise and Shine Excavating in March of 2020 thanks to a loan from Women’s Enterprise Centre.

Piket, who is also a volunteer firefighter in Oyster River, purchased a $40,000 Kubota backhoe and was realizing her dream of working for herself.

Then on March 9 of this year, her beloved machine was stolen from right beside her house as she slept.

“Yeah, I came out in the morning and it was gone. It was right here locked up,” she said. “I thought I was just dreaming. I panicked. Someone had stolen my equipment.”

The 2015 Kubota U17 was gone.

She reported it to the Comox Valley RCMP but then took matters into her own hands with repeated appeals on social media for people to keep an eye out for it. She also checked nearby surveillance cameras in Black Creek and found video of a distinctly spray-painted truck towing her trailer and excavator.

“I knew deep down inside that it would eventually be found,” said Piket.

Her work paid off and tips came in which she relayed to Nanaimo RCMP. Investigators eventually found the machine on a rural property south of the city.

“Our officers knew how much the excavator meant to the survival of her business. They turned over a lot of stones looking for it, and eventually, their hard work paid off. Needless to say, it was great work on the part of our Street Crimes Unit,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

“I was literally in tears with the officer when he called, I was so happy,” said Piket.

However, the thieves damaged the excavator which now needs upwards of $20,000 in repairs.

“She’s just starting out her own little businesses and next thing you know this happens,” said Phil Lanyon, Service Manager at North Island Tractor in Courtenay.

“There’s tons of work on this thing. I mean I just don’t know what we’re going to do for her,” added Lanyon.

Piket says she fought hard not to make it a stolen insurance claim but will now likely have to claim upwards of $20,000 in repairs.

A Gofundme page has been set up to assist Piket cover lost wages. At one point she thought she might lose her home in order to keep up with her business loan payments.

O’Brien says there have been no charges in the recovery of the excavator, however, the investigation is continuing.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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