Reckless behaviour during the past several weeks in Crofton by a group of three or four young teenagers is causing outrage within the community.
The rash of destructive action by boys believed to be in the 13- to 15-year-old range is not only damaging buildings and property around town, but creating a danger to themselves.
Residents reported seeing a teen climbing on the condemned Twin Gables Motel on the waterfront Friday night while other teen boys were ripping the siding off the building on the parking lot side.
Another resident saw boys throwing bottles at the building and trying to start a fire.
“The building is not safe and it would be tragic if a youth lost their life just goofing around down there,” remarked one resident who asked not to be identified.
There are four separate condemned buildings on one commercial lot that still houses numerous people.
There are several No Trespassing signs on the property and the Municipality of North Cowichan bylaw staff, mayor and council members have been informed about the plywood being taken off the door and windows as well as the deck rail laying on the ground.
“Council and the muni are very alive to this property and the issues it presents,” confirmed Mayor Al Siebring. “We are working on the file from a variety of perspectives, including bylaw enforcement, building code, public safety, public health issues, etc., but all within a paradigm that also acknowledges that there are people living there, people who would have a hard time finding alternate housing.”
The destructive behaviour moved from the Twin Gables to Crofton Elementary School where a dumpster was set on fire moments later.
“Yes, small dumpster fire extinguished by fire crews, RCMP were in attendance,” Martin Drakeley, manager of fire and bylaw services for North Cowichan, indicated.
The same teen on the roof of the Twin Gables was also seen on the Crofton Museum building roof ripping off shingles recently. Both windows have also been broken on the front of the museum and are now boarded up.
The Warmland Church has also been targeted by vandals since erecting a tent next to the building for the Easter weekend.
“We have had people going inside the tent for several weeks now late at night, at first they were just leaving food around, then they started throwing food around the walls etc.,” noted Scott Carruthers, Warmland Church lead pastor. “So we put plywood sheets up to cover the stage area so they wouldn’t have a place to sit in there. They then tore all the boards down. Then (last Wednesday night) they started a fire in the tent. Didn’t burn the tent, just some soot on the roof.”
The church spent $1,200 on video cameras, motion sensing lights, extension cords and more.
“So hopefully the lights and the knowledge they are on camera will discourage them,” added Carruthers.
“We were excited to get the tent for our church use, but also we want it to be used by the community as well. We want people in Crofton to be able to use this large dry space in the middle of town. We don’t even mind that these youth were under our tent or just hanging out in there, but it seems their behaviour is escalating to damage. It’s too bad.”
The trail of destruction and reckless actions has also included snapping windshield wipers off three cars on Chaplin Street recently; rolling tires down the Robert Street hill, with one of them hitting a front porch and another striking a car; fire extinguishers thrown into the Crofton Pool where a railing was also ripped off and thrown inside the fence; damage and paint by the tennis courts; and daffodil flower heads ripped off and thrown in the park by the school museum.
The same group is believed to be responsible for all the incidents.