Xtend Rentals owner Bill Robinson would rather hand over a couple of bills and change than lose any more sleep over the hooded thugs stripping his machines in the middle of the night.
The rash of thefts from his lot have ramped up recently and came to a boiling point last week when the small business on Oyster Bay Drive lost over $1,000 in three days.
“Recently, it’s been every third day something has got stolen,” said Robinson.
Among the items that the perpetrators have made off with include, eight batteries, lights, fuel and propane tanks – all locked away.
Security cameras mounted on the side of the neighbouring Ladysmith Home Hardware building captured the disguised criminals breaking into the locked Xtend Rentals truck as they stole $500 in batteries.
“It would have taken them 20 minutes to get all of those things out of there,” Robinson said. “They pried open the battery box and nicely undid all the cables.”
The previous night all the fuel was siphoned out of the truck, roughly another $200.
Adding to the frustration is the fact that at least one of the expensive batteries that was stolen last week ended up at the Schnitzer Steel Industries metal recycling facility where it can fetch seven dollars.
“We were able to recover one from Schnitzer because we had the make, the model and the serial number,” Robinson said, adding tongue in cheek that he’d rather offer up the money to the thieves than go through the headache of recovering his stolen property.
Robinson added that whoever is behind the thefts is keeping a close watch on his business and Xtend Rentals staff have been diligent about removing the batteries at the end of each day.
“Depending on how many machines are back here each night it could be an hour plus taking batteries out,” he said, recalling that the couple nights months back when an employee forgot and the criminals pounced.
“Both nights he forgot the batteries got stolen. You know they’re casing the place all the time.”
Lights have also been stolen off of his machines even though they can only fetch about $12 on secondary market.
Speaking at last Thursday’s Ladysmith Downtown Business Association meeting, RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Brissard said they are aware of at least one individual that’s stealing fuel in the community.
“We know who’s stealing gas here. We’ve tagged him and we’ll continue to tag him,” he said. “Nobody drives around with 20 jerrycans in the back of their truck but the reality is it’s not against the law so we have to catch the individual with their hand in the cookie jar.”
Little by little the losses have started to make a dent in Robinson’s bottom line and he’s applied to the town to build a temporary fence that would better protect his property from further targeting.
Ladysmith has requirements for what kind of fencing can be used in development permit areas for form and character, as well as requirements to do with zoning regulations for fencing.
Director of Development Services Felicity Adams explained that Xtend Rentals has been approved for a temporary fence.
“It’s something that they’ve already asked about and certainly possible for (Robinson) to do that,” she said.
The 30×50 ft structure is expected to cost $1,200 while eight motion-activated nest camera will run Robinson another $800.
“Basically I’ve got to spend $2,000 just to protect my stuff, but if we keep on this path losing where I’m losing $1,000 essentially in two weeks, I’d rather just spend the money then wait for it to get worse and worse.”
After posting about his problem with theft on a Ladysmith community Facebook page others in town have come to his aid.
“I had three people comment that they get their nightly Tim Hortons coffee around midnight and they’ll come down and keep an eye out,” he said.
RCMP encourage anyone who experiences a loss due to theft, or sees anything suspicious, to report it.