Security cameras near Great Greens Farm Market snapped this picture of a suspect in the vandalism that damaged the store's refrigeration system on Nov. 24. (Submitted photo)

Farm market in Cowichan has refrigeration system knocked out by vandal

Damage to Great Greens Farm Market in the thousands of dollars

A vandal has struck at Great Greens Farm Market, causing thousands of dollars in damage and lost food.

Owner Ryan Smith said that the alarms went off at the store, located on the Trans Canada Highway near Koksilah Road, at approximately 11 p.m. on Nov. 24, hours after Great Greens closed for the night.

He said security cameras show a man at that time close to the area where the exhaust fan for the store’s refrigeration system is located outside.

Smith said the man yanked off a condenser coil on the exhaust fan looking for copper, which caused a loud discharge of gas that was under pressure and set off an alarm that apparently scared the culprit away before he could steal any copper.

RELATED STORY: RUSSELL FARM STAFF IN QUICK CLEAN-UP MODE TO REOPEN BUSINESS AFTER FLOOD

“Employees at the nearby liquor store heard the gas discharge and called 911,” Smith said.

“This individual was lucky he wasn’t killed. The police looked at the tape from the security camera and said they know who he is, but I don’t know if they have made any arrests yet.”

Smith said he didn’t realize until the next morning that the vandal’s actions had caused a major leak in the gas lines that knocked the store’s refrigeration system out overnight.

He said a lot of the store’s food, including dairy products, meats, deli items, and produce, were lost as a result.

“We gave away as much as was salvageable to local food banks and had to throw out the rest,” Smith said.

“Fortunately, I have insurance, but the incident has really deflated my staff who have gone through so much lately, including the COVID-19 pandemic and interruptions to our supply chain as a result of the floods. This is one more thing they have had to deal with.”

RELATED STORY: POLICE SEEK HELP IN NAMING COWICHAN FARMSTAND THEFT SUSPECT

Smith said the store is up and running again, supplies are coming in and the market’s shelves are being restocked as quickly as possible.

“My staff were heartbroken that they couldn’t supply our customers as usual after the incident, but our customers have been fantastic and understanding,” he said.

“My staff have also been amazing through this ordeal.”

Smith said he’s still tallying the loss in the store’s inventory to determine the monetary value of what was lost, but he knows the cost of repairing the refrigeration system is approximately $40,000.

“This is the worst thing that has happened in the six years we’ve been here,” he said.

“We’ve had small incidents, but nothing like this before. There has been a lot more issues at night recently and I’ve asked the landlord about increasing security at those times. He said he’d look into it.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Crime