A puzzling crime has been committed against the company about to start B.C.’s newest sawmill in Port Alberni. For the second time in months, someone has stolen numerous shrubs from The San Group.
The latest theft happened sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
“Extremely frustrated that our small town, which is mostly a bunch of good people but we got some bad apples here, and it’s just total disbelief,” said Bruce Molander, San Group’s Port Alberni general manager.
Ten shrubs that were planted along Stamp Avenue only a month ago were stolen.
The San Group owns the property and is poised to start operating a new sawmill later this week having invested millions in three mills in the Alberni Valley. That’s despite suffering a fire at part of their mill in late April.
The latest theft follows a similar theft of shrubs from another corner of the company’s property two weeks ago. That time the San Group offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
“And it’s not the number of plants. It’s just the actual act of doing it which is so disappointing,” said Molander.
“We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars just on this landscaping here, never mind the millions we’re putting in facilities all over Port Alberni. It’s just a terrible message to the community itself and to our company as well frankly.”
But following the latest theft a different response. The company posted they would be “opening several accounts at local businesses where you can pick up a reasonable amount of plants FREE with our compliments.”
“If they really want the plants and they’re going to start vandalizing our property we’ll just give them the plants and just leave us alone. We just want to be the best corporate citizens we can,” said Molander.
At an Alberni Valley nursery, they doubt the plant theft was a drug-fuelled heist.
“There’s no market to turnaround and steal plants. It’s a small community. You’re going to get noticed if you put something on social media or whatever. It’s not going to go anywhere so I think people that steal like that are doing it for their own yard,” said Yvonne Colyn, an owner of Colyn’s Nursery and Garden Centre.
The San Group says in taking the high road it’s hoping the plant thefts will stop.