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Search and rescue equipment stolen in break-and-enter in Nanaimo

Security footage shows suspect taking items from fenced compound

Nanaimo Search and Rescue was the victim of an overnight break-in and theft yesterday.

The incident happened at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, when a single individual gained access to the organization’s fenced outdoor compound at NSAR’s headquarters at the corner of Fourth Street and Chesterlea Avenue and broke into the organization’s two cargo trailers.

The suspect, seen on security video carrying cases through a gate that opens to the facility’s parking lot, allegedly stole two yellow Pelican cases containing a range items that include an Apple iPad, Spotx satellite communications unit, a Stihl 18-inch chainsaw, Zoll automatic external defibrillator, Milwaukee Sawzall, 20-piece ratchet set, Milwaukee batteries and other items.

Grant Williamson, NSAR fleet director, said the thief climbed over the fence from atop a garbage dumpster at an adjoining property.

“They gained access to our two trailers and spent some time going through them, basically decided what they wanted to keep and made their way out through our back gate and down the alleyway across from our parking lot,” he said.

Williamson said a full inventory of what went missing was still being compiled, but the roughly estimated value of the items is at least $5,000.

By mid afternoon, during an interview with media, Williamson was informed that at least one of the items taken was pinging its location to NSAR members.

“The Spotx has been track to right up around Canadian Tire…” he said. “We’re going to be following up with [RCMP] as soon as we’re done here.”

The search and rescue organization is already taking steps to further secure the trailer compound against theft and there is a concern about a repeat visit from the thief, who also stole an ignition key for one of NSARs quads used for search and rescue missions. Williamson said the incident is disappointing and will impact NSAR financially.

“We depend on these tools to effectively do our job out in the woods and help people,” he said. “I mean, certainly, we have insurance coverage, but there’s always a deductible and regardless of whether or not we go through insurance, it’s certainly going to have an impact on our budget. As you know, we’re all volunteers and we do fundraising here and there to cover our expenses and we do get some money from the taxpayers as well, but there’s only so much to go around.”

Anyone who has information about the theft or the individual involved is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP’s non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and reference file No. 2024-6920.

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