A Vernon car salesman took matters into his own hands Monday after arriving at work to find a Jeep lifted up on blocks with all four wheels stolen.
“First thing that went through my brain is a guy in a truck came, took them and I will never see them again,” said Joe Skerritt, who owns Swan Lake Motors with his family.
But when he checked out the surveillance camera footage from Sunday, he was surprised to see that a guy with a grocery cart took the tires in broad daylight.
“So instead of calling the police and hearing the regular ‘well sir there isn’t much we can do,’ I walked down to the homeless camp and found three of the four wheels and tires this man stole from us.”
Skerritt realizes that the RCMP are inundated with stolen property files.
“I knew that they weren’t going to go look for my stolen property, and I don’t think that’s their job either. Their job is to catch the criminal.”
So with a friend, Skerritt did his own leg work and was pleasantly surprised.
Everyone he talked to at the camps were very helpful and he even ended up finding the fourth wheel.
“I went down there totally peaceful, had no confrontation, no issues, nothing,” said Skerritt, who advises that if anyone does have confrontation to then call the RCMP.
While looking around the homeless camp he also found numerous amounts of alleged stolen items: central vacuums, endless propane tanks, tons of bike frames, small barbecues, car parts and much more.
“To my surprise that wasn’t the worst of it. While looking for the last tire we decided to take a look at the other camp behind Temptations on the overpass. This camp had more inventory then Home Depot.”
Hundreds of cordless drills, TVs, bike frames, and wheels and tires were among the many items.
“If you are looking for anything I suggest taking a stroll as seeing if you can find your belongings,” said Skerritt, who just wants people to have their stuff back.
“Every tool, every bike I just thought of the families and businesses.”
Skerritt’s efforts have garnered a lot of attention after he shared it on Facebook Monday: “17,000 people looked at it.
“That many people are just as upset as I am.”
Hence why the City of Vernon is hosting a public town hall meeting tonight (Tuesday) at the rec centre at 6 p.m.
Skerritt plans to attend and has a proposed solution to dealing with stolen property issues which have plagued the region.
“There has to be a better solution because I just think it’s too easy for them.”
He suggests a weekly visit by a couple RCMP members and volunteers to homeless camps to load up any potentially stolen items. Then, Skerritt suggests, have the items available to the public, who with proper ID, receipts or whatever is needed, can claim back their stolen goods.
“The rest of the stuff they auction off and donate back to the homeless,” said Skerritt.