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Pangnirtung's youth centre was one victim of a rash of vandalism in the community. - NNSL file photo

Pangnirtung stung by break-ins
Escalating rash of mischief taking toll on community

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 26, 2012

Vandalism has been costing Pangnirtung more than just dollars.

When Co-op assistant manager Stephen Acheson arrived at work Nov. 13, the store was curiously absent of its hum of computers and overhead florescent lights. After flipping the switches to no avail, he discovered all power lines, phone lines and Internet to the store had been cut.

While Acheson went to the nearby hotel to inform his bosses of the severed lines, another line, one of anxious customers, was growing outside the Co-op. The price tag for the damage began to mount.

One fried phone box: $30,000; one charter plane of NorthwesTel employees to fix the lines: $40,000; lost sales for one day at the store and gas station: $25,000; two pop coolers and a dairy cooler: $13,000.

"We're looking at over $100,000 in damage and lost business in one day - it's crazy. All for that one little act of vandalism," said Acheson.

While on the roof, one of the power line inspectors found a burnt kitchen knife, which Acheson believes was used by kids to cut the lines.

"I can't really point fingers right now, but my guess is they were cutting them and they got shocked and took off because they got such a bad shock. They probably thought if they cut the lines they could get in the store. Too many (Sylvester) Stallone movies or something," he said, imagining a botched heist scene out of a Hollywood film.

Police were on scene but had not arrested anyone as of press deadline. Since the perpetrators did not gain entry, RCMP will treat the case as one of mischief and damage to property.

Acheson, who has only been managing at the store three weeks, said two nights later, the store's seacan containers were also robbed. Thieves broke the lock and stole baking goods.

"I thought I'd seen it all," he said.

Later that week, on Sunday Nov. 18, a comparatively small break-in happened at the hamlet office, which SAO Ron Mongeau, chalks up to "stupidity, pure and simple." Nothing from the office was stolen, however, Mongeau said the hamlet has purchased security cameras and is looking for money to cover the cost of installing them.

In the meantime, a Facebook post asked anyone with any information to call the RCMP, or "better yet, post their names here. (Break-and-enters) are getting out of hand."

Two weeks ago, the Pang Youth Centre was also broken into with vandals cutting the wire to the security camera.

The costly property damage and the rash of increasingly brazen local break-in is untimely for Co-op directors who Acheson says are looking to build another store in Pangnirtung in the near future.

RCMP have arrested and charged some people in recent commercial and residential break-ins, but others remain unsolved.

Police want to remind citizens that anonymous tips may be made through phone calls to Crimestoppers or the local detachment.

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