Vancouver Island Exhibition calls for volunteers to patrol grounds after copper theft

WatchVancouver Island Exhibition calls for volunteers to patrol grounds after copper theft

As volunteers put a fresh coat of paint on a barn at the Vancouver Island Exhibition grounds in Nanaimo Sunday, they were also busy figuring out how to prevent more thefts after $20,000 in copper wiring was stolen Thursday morning.

“Very disheartening,” said VIEX Vice President Karen Streeter. “We’re all volunteers and we try to put on the best fair that we can and these things happen.”

On Thursday and Friday nights about two dozen people were found lurking around in the dark.

“I’m not going to come out and say exactly they were up to no good because it may not have been but I’m not sure why in the middle of the night you’re wandering around the barns with backpacks in dark clothing,” said VIEX President Lynn Haley.

That’s why the VIEX Association put out a call for volunteers Sunday to help patrol the grounds at Beban park every night until the fair in late August.

“Just put out a Facebook post today,” said Haley. “We’re calling for members of the community, members of the VIEX to come out and start doing security through the night. We want this fair to go on and we can’t sustain any more theft.”

The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. However, the association stresses it only wants people to call the police if they see anything.

“I know this community is frustrated. I can appreciate the frustration but the VIEX does not condone violence. We’re simply here as a presence. Observe, monitor and report and that’s it,” added Haley.

The recent copper theft comes at a bad time. The Exhibition lost a barn in an apparent arson last fall and in May they found out a Federal Government grant of $30,000 is being discontinued this year.

“You know, $30,000 out of our operating budget, $20,000 in theft, so we’re $50,000 in the hole before we’ve even got the fair on” said Haley.

There is security on site but Haley says it’s not enough.

Those looking to volunteer can contact the VI EX.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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