Parking meter vandals hit 39 machines over the past week, according to police, despite two arrests made last month.
On Monday, March 2, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP learned of 21 parking meters targeted over the weekend. Police were advised of another 18 meters hit on Friday, March 6.
“This is a crime that can occur relatively quickly as the thief can be in and out of a meter in a matter of minutes,” RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Tania Finn said.
“We know that one individual can cause substantial damage to a number of machines in a very short period,” she said. “Unfortunately, it appears there is more than on thief targeting the meters here in Vernon.”
The City of Vernon is assessing the damage to the broken meters and costs for repairs are unknown at this time.
Motorists parking at a broken meter are not required to pay at that location, however, they must still abide by the maximum allowable time limit, the city’s communications and grant manager Christy Poirier said in an email.
“For example, if they park in a two-hour zone, they must vacate that location within two hours,” she wrote. “Staff are still monitoring all areas and will be ticketing vehicles that exceed the maximum allowable time limit.”
Police received a call Monday around 5:45 a.m. from an alert resident regarding a suspicious man in a hoodie breaking into meters on 33rd Street. They responded to the scene but were unable to locate the suspect.
Later that same afternoon, police got another call about a man on a bike breaking into the meters but officers were unable to attend in time to locate the suspect.
Two men were arrested after vandalizing parking meters downtown in February.
A 39-year-old man is facing charges of mischief and theft after officers arrested him within minutes of a concerned citizen’s call on Feb. 12. A witness stayed on the line with dispatch and was able to provide updates on the man’s location leading to a successful arrest.
Upon his arrest, police found the man has done this before and was in violation of a previous release order’s conditions banning him from being within one metre of a parking meter.
A second man, 35, was arrested Feb. 13 and found in possession of a homemade device used to retrieve coins from parking metres.
“We are appreciative of those who take the time to call us when they witness a crime or observe something they feel a police officer should check out,” Cpl. Finn said last month.
No suspects have been identified in the latest string of thefts and anyone with information of these incidents is urged to contact the non-emergency line at 250-545-7171 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at nokscrimestoppers.com.