The search for a missing rescue vessel is over.
Earlier Saturday morning, B.C.’s search and rescue association said thieves made off with the eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel.
The association said at around 10 p.m. Friday night, thieves broke into the locked Kent Harrison search and rescue compound in Agassiz.
It was last seen heading west on Highway 1 near the Prest Road overpass, near Chilliwack.
Neil Brewer, manager of Kent Harrison SAR, said pieces of the vessel’s mast were found scattered along the highway by another member of his team — tipping the crew off to the theft.
“We realized that they had stolen it with the mast up 18-19 feet high,” Brewer said. “We knew at some point there would be debris because the first overpass they went under, the mast would be sheared off.”
The boat was recovered by RCMP in a field along Keith Wilson Road in Chilliwack. Brewer gave the credit to the story being widely shared on social media, with the original post eventually reaching roughly 18,000 people.
The Spirit of Harrison is now back in the hands of the SAR, who now have to worry about repairing the mast on an already expensive craft.
“In 2010 we had it valued between $48-60,000, with a replacement value of as much as a quarter-million dollars,” Brewer said.
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The theft marks the third time the SAR facility has been robbed, with this one the largest score so far. Brewer said the team is looking at beefing up security to protect its equipment and shield the volunteer organization from unnecessary costs.
“It’s a sad reflection on society that people would steal assets that are obviously used for life-saving,” he said.
—With files from Jill Bennett