With the looming holiday season, a local couple is looking to put the Sunday night break-in of their clothing shop behind them.
The Boardwalk, located at 2801-31st Ave., was broken into shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.
“Last night we were just at home decorating our Christmas tree and we got a phone call from the alarm company at about 10:40 p.m. last night that the alarm had gone off and (they) wanted permission to reset it. We thought it was a little strange, so we came down to check it out. And, sure enough, we were broken into last night through two of our front doors,” said owner Jenna Dietz.
“We came here and the RCMP were already here. I was at home with the baby so my husband (Chad) came down and checked it out. I came down afterwards. We had to clean up all the glass and board up the doors and try to lock it down as best we could.”
Upon her arrival on scene, Dietz said the image that appears in her mind is the spotlights from RCMP vehicles and the shattered glass windows. During clean up Monday, Dietz said she found glass near the back wall of the store.
“There was glass everywhere in the front entrance,” she said. “The shop was a bit of a mess, there was glass everywhere, clothing all over the floor, and a lot of valuable things from a locked up case were stolen.”
Dietz said that they are still calculating their losses. The highest ticket item missing is a collection of Nixon watches. The couple is working with their insurance to find the best way to move forward with a claim.
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP said suspects had fled the scene before their arrival.
“Once inside the business, the suspects targeted a glass display case containing the watches,” said Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Cpl. Tania Finn.
The Boardwalk has been in its current location for about five years without incident. The building is equipped with extensive security camera equipment and 24-hour LED lights to illuminate all surrounding areas.
“We’ve tried to make it as safe as possible and this is the first time we’ve had an issue,” she said.
Over recent months, other Vernon businesses have been calling for improved safety and security in the downtown core.
In 2017, a major portion of the city’s budget went towards hiring six new police officers, five of which are now in place in the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP detachment. During budget deliberations for 2019, the City dedicated more than $68,000 towards its bylaw division.
“Council approved the seasonal bylaw enforcement program, it’s been successful,” said chief administrative officer Will Pearce of the summer program that has run for the past three years. “They said, ‘let’s make it permanent.’”
The Vernon bylaw office has recently moved to the downtown core for higher visibility and further safety and security projects are in the works.
However, Dietz said there is still work to be done.
“I think that they’ve done a lot. The Downtown Vernon Association had an incentive I think about a year ago where they were willing to have a grant for half of the cost of security camera setups. We already had cameras so we actually beefed up our security camera system through that grant, which was really helpful. We can get more angles on the building so it’s really surrounded now,” she said.
One possible area of improvement is outdoor lighting, Dietz said.
“If all of downtown did that I think it would be helpful and help keep people from hiding in nooks and crannies and giving the overall safer feeling downtown.”
Despite the break-in, Dietz said that they are keeping their spirits high and working towards reopening the shop as soon as possible.
“A big thanks to the RCMP — they’ve been very helpful in a stressful situation. Our insurance, through West Baron and Westland Insurance, Matthew has been amazing at helping us navigate through something that is completely foreign territory to us,” Dietz said. “And (thanks) to the community because they’ve been an outpouring of support and we’re really grateful for the love. It’s very touching and means a lot when this has been really stressful. It’s good to feel the love from the community and we certainly love them all back.”