By TIFFANY CRAWFORD, VANCOUVER SUN
METRO VANCOUVER — In the giving spirit of the holidays, Surrey residents are rallying to help their local search and rescue, which is scrambling to raise money after thieves stole thousands of dollars worth of life-saving equipment.
Mounties were called in to investigate on Monday, after a volunteer arrived at about 8 a.m. to find that thieves had cut through the chain fence, and broke into two emergency vehicles, likely sometime on the weekend.
The team estimates about $5,000 of gear was stolen, including a generator, which is used to power lights so rescue crews can illuminate rural search areas, and an outboard motor which powers the boat used to search for people in the water.
Surrey SAR volunteer Cameron Clark said they are grateful for several donations they have received since Monday. He said a company has offered to help fix the damaged cupboards in the emergency vehicles, and another has offered to install alarms.
Surrey SAR, which serves Surrey, Delta, Richmond and White Rock, takes about 40 calls on average per year, with emergencies tending to peak during the holiday season. The team has been seriously hampered by the theft and the damage done to the vehicles.
“There was significant damage to both vehicles. We can duct tape the door on one of the vehicles, kind of MacGyver our way through it, but the other one is not safe. That one is out of service,” he said. “It’s Christmas so it is really hard to get anything done. It probably will be out of service for three weeks.”
Surrey RCMP were reviewing videotape evidence, but as of Tuesday still did not have a suspect in the theft.
Cameron estimates it will cost about $5,000 to replace the stolen equipment, and another $3,000 to repair the vehicles.
He said this is the first time the Surrey SAR has had anything stolen, but it’s not the first time large-scale thefts have happened to SAR teams.
Last year, more than $10,000 worth of life-saving equipment was stolen from a North Shore Search and Rescue cache. The thieves also used a chainsaw to destroy a nearby helicopter pad.