[UPDATE: As of 1:20 p.m., company owners notified the Western News that RCMP had located their van in the parking lot of a Penticton motel and arrested one individual. The state of it is not yet known. RCMP has not yet returned a request for comment.]
For the third time in a month, a Penticton electrical company has been hit by thieves.
At approx. 7 a.m. this morning, an Eckert Electric Ltd. van was stolen in the parking lot of Petro Canada by Riverside Mall, with employees close by.
Security footage shared by company owners online shows the alleged thief climb into the van and start it up. An employee standing close by heard the van start up and turned around to find it reversing. An employee is seen chasing after the van attempting to stop it, unsuccessfully.
Although the van was taken, company owner Jamie Foster is grateful his employee is safe.
“The guy’s okay that tried to stop it, but it could have easily gone the other way,” said Foster. “The guys were all standing about 20 feet from the van, just had their backs to it.
“It’s not as though he went in shopping and left the keys in, he was literally right outside the van.”
Foster says his employee was out of the van for about 45 seconds, but this was enough time for someone to jump in and drive away.
The van was filled with tools, both owned by the company as well as personal tools of the employees working. Foster says his employees rely on those tools to make a living.
The owner explained that RCMP quickly deployed units to search for their van. In the hours that followed, company vans around town were being pulled over by police attempting to find the alleged thief.
Foster stressed that the response by police was outstanding.
“There was a really good police response; there was about 12 cars aparently out looking,” he said.
This is the first vehicle theft the company has experienced, but the third time in four weeks the company has been hit by thieves.
Four weeks ago, individuals allegedly broke into the company’s yard, drilled into their vehicles and drained their fuel. Two weeks ago their yard was broken into again, and tools were stolen from their van.
“I think it’s just easy opportunity for easily pawned tools,” he said. “Our guys have been stolen from over the years; I’ve been in this business for 25 years and a lot of times we can find our tools the same day or the next day at the pawn shop.
“They just want some quick money, and that’s how they get it I guess, at any cost.”
Foster says they haven’t been hit this bad in 20 years of business.
“It’s just absolutely crazy,” he said. “People are willing to do anything for a dollar.”
Some information has not yet been confirmed by RCMP. They have not yet returned a request for comment.