ROSS FERRY, N.S. —
If culprits who broke into the Ross Ferry Volunteer Fire Department want their hammers back, they can contact the Baddeck detachment of the RCMP who are examining the tools for fingerprints.
Sometime overnight Jan. 15-16, the fire station experienced its second break and enter in two months.
“We were really saddened to see that could happen in our community,” said Michelle Symes, deputy chief of the Victoria County fire department. “We’re a volunteer fire department and it’s frustrating for us. We spent Saturday cleaning and repairing. It took a lot of time, effort and expense to get everything back to the way it was.”
Symes said a member passing by the fire station early Saturday morning noticed the front door propped open.
“When the RCMP responded they informed us there had also been five cottages broken into around the same time,” she said.
Symes said the fire department was first targeted in November. Culprits gained entry in the first break-in by smashing the glass in the front door with a hammer.
“When they got inside they went straight to our liquor cabinets,” she said. “They broke the locks off with the hammer. We know that because they left their hammer behind. They stole quite a bit of liquor.”
Culprits in the second break-in also used a hammer to smash the glass in the door, broke the lock on the fridge and broke into the liquor cabinet, which had been repaired following the first break-in.
“They took the last little bit of liquor they hadn’t taken the first time,” she said.
Symes said RCMP took the hammers used on both occasions as well as other evidence.
She said they want the thieves to know there is no liquor left in the building.
“Hopefully that will deter them from coming in again if that’s what they are after, which it looks like it is,” she said.
Symes said the station’s security system malfunctioned and new security cameras were installed on Monday.
Symes said the hall has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
The department operates on a limited budget and recently expanded its truck bays which was a major expense.
Last year the fire department purchased a “new to us” 1996 fire truck.
When shopping for a “new” fire truck, members discovered trucks are larger now than when the station was originally built, limiting their purchasing ability. The expansion ensures those restrictions will not be an issue with future purchases.
“It’s the community that keeps us going,” she said. “When (a break-in) happens, it feels like it happens to the community.”
Symes asks everyone to watch for suspicious activity.
“We’re worried about our community as well because there were cottages broken into,” she said. “Anyone seeing anything suspicious please contact the RCMP. We need to look out for each other.”
Staff Sgt. Joshua Wiese, district commander for Victoria County, said they are investigating five reports of break and enters into cottages between Jan. 15-16, as well as the break-in at the Ross Ferry fire department.
“It’s disappointing, they are volunteers,” he said. “Anything that is stolen is an absolute loss.”
The cottage break-ins are also under investigation.
“They are seasonal cottages, so we won’t know exactly what was taken until we confirm with the homeowner,” he said. “There were sheds and houses broken into on these properties.”
Wiese said police are waiting for information from the forensic identification section regarding possible fingerprints.
Wiese urges people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious vehicles or activity in their communities.
“We encourage people to keep everything locked, have neighbours check on properties and cameras are never a bad idea,” he added.
Anyone with any information on these crimes or who recall suspicious activity in their neighbourhood is asked to contact the Baddeck detachment of the RCMP at 902-295-2350 or Crime Stoppers, 902-562-8477.
Sharon-Montgomery-Dupe is the enterprise reporter at the Cape Breton Post.