150 Mile Husky Centre remained closed for most of the day Wednesday, May 13, following a brazen and destructive theft overnight.
Store manager Valerie Osepiuk said the store was open and a staff member was inside working at about 4:30 a.m. when suspects used a Jackall jack to smash through the building’s southern entrance, which was locked.
Three suspects in dark clothing, hoodies and face coverings then entered the store, kicked out a glass case filled with knives and took those, before tying a rope to the ATM machine and dragging it out of the store and away on Highway 97 south.
“I’ve been here over ten years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Osepiuk, noting a staff member was shaken but unharmed.
In a press released issued later in the day, Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley said five suspects were captured and arrested Wednesday morning in conection with the robbery. Three adults, including in prolific offender, and two youths were arrested after trying to evade police by hiding in some bushes between Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
Serving as a rest stop for truckers and travellers on Highway 97, as well as a busy centre for the local community, a steady stream of customers stopped by Wednesday morning, shaking their heads at the damage done. Some were also angry they couldn’t collect their mail from the centre, which has a post office, convenience store and restaurant inside.
“It’s frustrating,” said Chandel Brodland, who has worked at the store for the past two years.
Brodland said she arrived for work at about 6 a.m. to find police tape up, the doors smashed and several RCMP officers investigating the scene.
Before COVID-19 Brodland worked the graveyard shift. The store just reopened for 24-hour service on May 1.
The staff member inside the store could only stand by and watch as the suspects broke in, one of them allegedly armed with bear spray.
Brodland noted she enjoys her job and that customers are typically truck drivers, loggers and neighbourhood residents when she does work at night.
Williams Lake RCMP are investigating.
The ATM machine stolen by the suspects had no money in it, staff confirmed. Damage to the doors, however, was extensive and a number of knives were taken.