By Alex Rinfret–Vandals attacked the Tlell post office and fire hall over the weekend, breaking windows and doors, destroying firefighting equipment and dumping pounds of a foul-smelling brown substance throughout the building.
The vandalism was discovered Sunday morning (June 3), said deputy fire chief Terry Mitchell, and volunteers spent hours and hours that afternoon and evening cleaning up the mess.
Mr. Mitchell said the perpetrators sprayed ketchup and mustard around, as well as spreading some kind of dog food supplement everywhere. The food supplement looked like sawdust and smelled like rotten fish, and was difficult to clean up. In the small upstairs meeting room, a closet door was broken in half, the television tossed on the floor, kitchen implements thrown around and walls smashed.
Downstairs, they had broken the volunteer firefighters’ VHF radios “beyond repair”, Mr. Mitchell said, and broken into the locked bays where the fire trucks are parked. It looked like they had tried to steal the smaller fire truck, he said.
The fire department would have had a hard time responding to a fire if it hadn’t discovered the damage and had time to clean it up, he said.
“People are very unhappy,” Mr. Mitchell said. “They can’t believe someone would do that. Had we had a fire and come down to respond, we would have been in a tight spot.”
Mr. Mitchell said it doesn’t look like anything was stolen, but the damage will cost thousands of dollars to fix. The fire department runs on a very tight budget and does not have any insurance except the vehicle insurance it’s required to have for its trucks.
“They might as well have stolen it, if it’s broken,” he said. “We’re out thousands of dollars.”
Canada Post spokesperson Lillian Au said mail was torn and ripped and some parcels were damaged, and the post office was left in a mess. Canada Post was preparing a letter to go to all its Tlell customers whose mail was affected, she said, alerting them to what had happened and apologizing.
“It’s a shame,” she said. “It’s rare for us to have one of our post offices broken into because we do have good security.”
Postal inspectors are looking at the case and preparing a report, she said. The report will look at whether the Tlell post office needs more security.
Police have arrested two people in the case, Queen Charlotte RCMP Sgt. Neil Hogg said, one an adult male and one a youth. Both are from the Port Clements area, he said.
Charges are pending of breaking and entering with intent, theft under $5,000, mischief under $5,000 and theft from mail.
The RCMP’s identification expert flew over from Prince Rupert on Sunday to help out in the case, Sgt. Hogg said. The two suspects were arrested on Sunday and Monday by the Masset detachment. The investigation is continuing.
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