It’s not where Helge Naesgaard usually spends the night, but he’s taken to sleeping on the floor of his store for the past three weeks.

It’s a way to try to make sure thieves stay away.

“We’d seen some bad characters coming through here and we thought they might attempt to break in,” said Naesgaard.

He has a reason for concern. The store has been targeted in the past.

But despite sleeping in the store, the thieves still arrived recently then pulled down a fence.

“And they loaded up their truck with pots and it’s a little difficult to say how many they took,” said Naesgaard.

Then they allegedly came into the store through an unlocked door and while Naesgaard slept just steps away, they stole two computers.

“Kind of breaks your heart when you have vandalism or theft.”

And just down the street, a similar story.

A mainland couple who are building a log home said they returned to find their trailer emptied out.

“Took their 42-inch TV and right down to the last piece of toilet paper in the place,” said Gloria Baird, the victim’s sister.

Thieves made off with roughly $5,000 worth of goods that aren’t covered by their insurance.

It nearly made them pack in the project.

“It really made them rethink it,” said Baird. “They thought at one point of just selling the house at the stage it was at and just leaving.”

It appears to be part of a growing problem.

A recent post on social media reads “Is anyone else sensing that our thefts [of] property and vehicle[s] have reached near-epidemic proportions?”

Port Alberni RCMP say the third quarter was the worst it had seen for property crimes in nine years. That includes break-ins, shoplifting, fraud and theft from vehicles.

The detachment is urging people to report crimes and keep an eye out for their neighbours.

And so some are having to stick to drastic measures to try to keep their property safe.

Naesgaard says the store will be his bedroom until he can improve security measures enough to allow him to sleep peacefully elsewhere.

Kendall Hanson