NAPA Auto Parts in Quesnel was hit by a rash of break-ins at the end of November 2019. Observer file photo

Quesnel auto parts store hit by multiple break-ins

Store owner shares surveillance footage on social media in hopes of catching thieves

By Melanie Law

NAPA Auto Parts on Two Mile Flat in Quesnel was victim of a break-in Nov. 24, and owner Richard Duff said it’s the latest in a string of similar incidents.

“[Someone] broke in in August and stole the safe, and we ended up getting that back. In October, they came in the back of the shop and tried to steal the delivery truck. Last weekend, they came in and stole some chainsaws,” said Duff.

Four STIHL chainsaws were taken from the store on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Duff said when he looked at some of the surveillance footage from earlier in the month, he noticed a man come into the store about 10 days before the theft and unbolt the lock on a hidden door that employees no longer use. He believes that’s how the thieves entered the store.

“The door hasn’t been used in about 10 years. It’s hidden behind some clothing, and it wasn’t being checked [by employees]. It is now.”

Duff, who owns the Quesnel store as well as two in 100 Mile House, said he has invested in more surveillance cameras and equipment, as well as hiring a security firm to patrol the outside of the store after hours. He confirmed he notified the RCMP after every incident, but so far the thieves have not been caught.

In an effort to be proactive in finding the culprits, Duff posted surveillance camera images of the alleged perpetrators to the NAPA Auto Parts Facebook page on Nov. 26, a few days after the latest incident. He said so far he’s received a few names to look into, which he has passed on to the RCMP.

“I’m just trying to get this out there; I’m sure I’m not the only one in town [this is happening to]. Maybe someone will recognize them and [RCMP] can get them off the street,” said Duff.

James Cherry, the manager of James & Sons Electric Ltd, which is located just south of NAPA Auto Parts on Highway 97, confirmed his store has also been victim to theft, most recently on Nov. 28, 29 and 30.

“It’s been brutal. … NAPA has been hit worse than we have, but I’ve been spending money getting more lights, more cameras, trying to deter these guys,” he said.

Cherry said thieves have so far not been able to get into the building, but they have stolen tools from vehicles, as well as stealing copper wire from outdoor bins. He said although it happened more frequently last week, it’s not new.

“We’ve had a lot stolen over the past year or more, [including] trailers, trucks.”

Duff estimates between $4,000- and $5,000-worth of merchandise has been taken from NAPA since August. Prior to this, he said the Quesnel store hadn’t experienced many thefts, aside from some minor shoplifting incidents. He said his stores in 100 Mile House have not been experiencing the same level of crime.

Quesnel RCMP’s Sgt. Richard Weseen told the Observer he is unable to comment on the break-ins, as the matter is currently under investigation.

According to the most recently released Quesnel RCMP statistics, between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2019, 28 commercial break-and-enters were reported to local police, compared to 39 in the same months in 2018.

There were a total of 48 commercial break-ins reported to RCMP between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2019, down from 64 in the same period in 2018.

Quesnel was recently ranked B.C.’s most dangerous city and the third most dangerous city in Canada by Maclean’s magazine, based on the Crime Severity Index.

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