Winfield United Church frustrated by vandalism attack

Thrift store at the church suffers extensive damage to its storage sheds in overnight vandalism last week

Volunteers at the Winfield United Church thrift shop say they are frustrated with some recent vandalism that on the surface seems pointless.

Six doors were damaged on storage sheds used to store over-flow material from the church’s thrift shop last week and damage was significant in the break in.

Items were also stolen although volunteers say they aren’t sure how many or what kind of things were taken as the storage sheds are home to bags and bags of different items making inventory next to impossible.

“We have signs up all over our store that say shoplifting isn’t necessary because if you are in financial need, just contact us and we will make sure you get whatever you need,” said Joan Phipps, one of the store’s many volunteers. “When we have donations come in, we sort through them and if we have too much of anything we just bag it up and put it in the storage sheds. We just don’t understand why anyone would do this.”

The exact dollar figure on the damage won’t be known until the group can bring in a contractor next week to fix the doors. Four of the six will have to be completely replaced including the door frame.

Lake Country RCMP say they have dealt with a few break- ins and cases of vandalism in the past couple of months and advise businesses and residences alike to take steps to deter vandals.

“There have been some reports of suspicious activity and a handful of break-ins over the last couple months,” said Lake Country RCMP Const. Joe Bellia. “We’ve also had some reports of people coming onto properties and scoping things out, looking through the property and walking around sheds or garages. My advice is lots of lighting. The motion detector lights are very popular. These people that tend to break in don’t want to be seen.”

Const. Bellia also said community watch groups are a good way to keep neighborhoods safe as well as having an alarm on your home or business.

The thrift shop at the United Church has been in operation for many years and coordinator Ken Phipps says there is no plan to slow down its operation in the face of the vandalism. The Church donates money each year to different charities including the food bank and it also sponsors students with bursaries throughout the year.

“It’s not uncommon to have shoplifters picking up things but this is the first break-in we have had like this,” said Phipps. “It’s the vandalism that really gets to you. We help a lot of people. It’s a community service. Every worker in the thrift shop is a volunteer. If you are hard up with no job you can come down and say you are desperate for some clothing and they will give it to you. they don’t have to steal.”

If you have any information on the vandalism at the United Church you can contact the local RCMP at 250-766-2288.