Monday morning began like any other day at Albertsons Home Centre in Parksville, but as the staff was setting up for the day, they found pieces of broken concrete on the floor inside the store.

“And they noticed that these cage doors were open and there was a hole through our cinder block wall,” said store manager Brandon Ford.

Sometime overnight Sunday, thieves gained entry to the rear yard of the store by cutting through a fence then hid behind a curtain used to protect wood products from the rain and proceeded to smash out three cinder blocks of the wall before crawling into the store.

“One night’s visit from criminals cost the company $10,000 in stolen tools and $5000 in damage, so $15,000 in total,” said Ford.

Police aren’t sure if one thief or more was involved but said once inside the store, the thieves stayed low to the floor to avoid detection by the alarm system. And they didn’t have to go far to get what they were looking for.

Ford says they had likely probably scoped out the store and knew where to break through the wall right next to a display of Makita combo kits. Each case contained two drills, batteries, and a charger. Thirty other batteries were also stolen along with a Bosch laser level and more.

All were taken from the lower case that had been locked.

Ford says the hardcover Makita cases will have scuff marks on the outside as they were scratched when they were pushed out the wall.

“We always thought we were living in our concrete castle where we didn’t have to worry about anything but our front door and back door,” he added.

Police says this type of break-in is unusual.

“Ordinarily we see entry through a window or a door or glass but this takes time, this takes a concerted effort to gain entry in this fashion,” said Oceanside RCMP Sgt. Stephen Rose.

However, since December, there have been five break and enters in the Oceanside area using the exact same method and police think they’re connected.

“We’ve now put full curtain detection beams along all perimeter walls of the store,” said Ford.

He’s also installed top-of-the-line thermal cameras outside and encourages other businesses to do the same.

Police say businesses should make sure their alarm systems are functional and turned on after hours.

Anyone with information about the break-ins are asked to call Oceanside RCMP at 250-248-6111

Dean Stoltz