At least three Pemberton businesses had large amounts of money stolen from them on Saturday night, July 26, during the Pemberton Music Festival weekend.
Mount Currie Coffee Company, the Locals Living Room and Pemberton Suds Laundromat all reported having their locks tampered with and cash taken from their properties sometime between 6 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. that night.
“The way they did it was very professional,” said Chris Ankeny, owner of Mount Currie Coffee.
“They did not break any doors or windows. They actually drilled out my lock and came in really clean, and just took my safe and my money. They did not destroy the place, which would have been a lot worse.”
Les Ecker, owner of the Suds Laundromat, said that the thief or thieves broke into his place and the Locals Living Room by sliding some sort of bar under the lock and then popping the lock off.
“The police told me that just the way it looked, they had never seen a method of entry around here like that before,” he said. “They thought that maybe it was someone out of town.”
Pemberton RCMP are currently investigating the three thefts, said spokesperson Sergeant Blake McLeod. RCMP officers have not yet determined whether the robberies are linked, but recognize they have many similar characteristics.
“We are just pouring through the information to see if there are any linkages that we can utilize to further our investigation, but as you can appreciate there were obviously a lot of transients through the area at that time,” said McLeod.
“We are looking at all avenues of the investigation, and we are not going to limit ourselves to say it was just a person that came in for the weekend. There is potential it was locals, but we are open to anything.”
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said that despite the fact the robberies occurred during the festival weekend, he does not think they are related to security issues in the downtown core.
“Break and enters can happen at anytime, and at this point, I haven’t received any comment from people saying things were out of control or people felt unsafe,” said Sturdy.
“I think in a lot of ways we had far more security, 24 hours a day, and we actually had an improved fire response time… It seems obvious that you can connect the festival with the break and enters, and I guess it was also targeted because of the volumes of people we were getting.”
Ankeny said that even though he has mixed emotions over the past weekend because of the thefts, he would still welcome the Pemberton Festival next year.
“I am obviously going to beef up my security, and I am going to do a lot to make sure that a robbery doesn’t happen again,” said Ankeny.
“All of a sudden, our small town was not a small town anymore. We were a city at that point and we had city problems. And maybe that was me being a little naïve and not thinking to make sure I did not have money in the safe.”
He said he is trying not to be negative about the festival because, minus the robbery, his business did well, and he thinks the organizers did their best to do everything right.
“I am sure the organizers are going to be bummed that this happened because it does leave a bad feeling for not only myself but for other people that know that this happened,” he said.
“Being in its first year, there obviously are going to be a lot of kinks to work out, and I think if they (the organizers) can work out those kinks, it could be even more positive in the future.”
If anyone from the public has information on the break and enters, McLeod said they should contact the Pemberton RCMP either through their general line or Crime Stoppers.