Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s (VIN) Thanksgiving weekend started with an unwanted surprise.
Someone broke into its ReStore building in the Comox Valley and made off with cash and several items. The culprit made more than one visit in the early morning hours of Oct. 9. The incident at the 13th Street location in Courtenay took place around 5 a.m.
A lone person was responsible but may have had an accomplice along who did not enter the store. The person who did break into the ReStore was wearing a light-coloured baseball cap and hoodie, a face mask and gloves. The non-profit organization is hoping images from cameras in the store will help them identify the suspect.
The culprit tried to break into the two cash drawers on site but was unable and took stole the whole drawers, then left the building before returning to load up on donated items for prize pick-ups. The person came back yet again to steal two safes that contained the store’s petty cash, till float and cash deposit from the previous day. The organization estimates the value of damage and the thefts to be around $3,000.
The regional chapter of Habitat for Humanity runs the store in the Comox Valley, along with one in Campbell River, to raise funds for its project to build affordable homes for families in the communities. The stores sell gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, appliances and other items to generate funds for build projects. In Courtenay, Habitat is building homes at a Lake Trail Road site. Last year, eight families moved into homes built by Habitat and its community partners on the North Island.
This year has already posed some challenges for the organization because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latest annual report for Habitat, executive director Pat McKenna wrote, “Before I talk about 2019, I first want to acknowledge 2020. This has been a year of challenge and transformation. We are all struggling, yet we continue to thrive against adversity, and we will come out of this year more dedicated to our mission than ever before.”
The store had to close for a couple of months in the spring due to pandemic restrictions, but both stores reopened, though with reduced hours and measures in place to protect the health and safety of customers. Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North has also set up an online store option. It has even re-started up the in-store 50/50 draw.
“Aside from this incident, the reopening has been going very well. The community has been very supportive, and customers are respectful of the new health and safety measures,” Habitat for Humanity VIN director of communications and fundraising Cady Corman said.
Regarding the break-in, anyone with information is asked to contact the Comox Valley RCMP (File number: 20-16541).