By all accounts from those in the know, the case is just plain strange, some even say “weird.”
Sometime over the August long weekend, most likely Friday and Saturday night, a person with a knowledge of electricity and tools for the crime, vandalized the decorative lights on the Victoria Street Bridge.
And not vandalized such as taking a hammer and smashing at random, this was damage done with a purpose.
The culprit opened 16 junction boxes and methodically removed components to first shut off the east-side lights then on Saturday, all the lights.
“What (the person) did on the downstream side was he took the covers off and stripped out the relays,” explained city engineer Warren Proulx. “That would have involved stripping the wires and pulling the device out. Then he took the relays out, and kept the covers and the relays.”
On the downstream side the person also dismantled the covers on the white lights and stole the covers as well as the lights.
“We actually have covers over the top of the lights which were put there for vandalism reasons,” says Proulx. “But what this essentially did was on the downstream side, it disconnected the circuit because the white lights and decorative lights have to work together.”
Calls about the lights being out started coming into Proulx’s work phone on Saturday night.
He drove over the bridge but at that point, didn’t know why one side of the bridge was in the dark.
“The same culprit must have returned Saturday evening and stripped out just the relays on the upstream side, he took the covers off and never put them back on – but what was really surprising and weird – the wires were not snipped, they were actually taken off what’s called a marrette (twist-on connector),” he added. “It has to be someone with electrical knowledge because he took the marrette off, stripped the device out and put the marrette back on again so people couldn’t get electrocuted. And as soon as the circuit was cut, everything went.”
Strange yes and to date, no motive is known.
Police have identified a suspect who is known to the force, but they have insufficient evidence to charge the man.
“Likely this is the person responsible,” RCMP Cpl. Darryl Orr told the Trail Times. “But we don’t believe we have the evidence to support a prosecution at this time, unfortunately. This person is very well known to the police, the video surveillance was reviewed but was not at the right angle to capture the incident,” he added. “Hopefully with the city looking forward maybe some further proactive measures might have to be taken to ensure the property is protected. We certainly don’t want to continue to see this happen, this is one of the nicest features in the city, and it is concerning to us.”
And soon it will be concerning to Trail taxpayers, all of whom are on the hook for the repairs.
At this time respective costs are unknown, but will include the price of new lights and replacement of electrical components.
“People phoned me and emailed me when this damage was done,” said Proulx. “So it is important to get the word out, because there are a lot of eyes out there.”
After almost 40 years of working for the city, Proulx has a level of experience and a level head when dealing with defacement and destruction of Trail property.
“Working everyday for a municipality there is vandalism, (whether it’s) sprinkler heads, parking meters, people cutting down trees, graffiti – or these lights. It doesn’t deter me from putting on new sprinkler heads, planting another tree or fixing the lights – it’s the cost of doing business and unfortunately it comes at the expense of taxpayers, because vandalism is like stealing.”