Two men arrested, in custody for ransacking parking meters in Vernon

A photo of a vandalized parking meter in Vernon taken in January. Global News

Two Vernon men are in custody after being arrested this week for ransacking downtown parking meters, North Okanagan police said on Thursday.

Police say the first arrest happened Wednesday evening with the other occurring early Thursday morning, and that each parking meter theft was witnessed by a citizen.

According to the RCMP, the Wednesday incident occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m., with a witness seeing a man breaking into parking meters along 30th Street.

READ MORE: Kelowna battling ongoing parking meter vandalism with new pay stations

Police say the witness reported the theft and provided updates on the man’s location. They added that within minutes of the call, a 39-year-old Vernon man was arrested, and that he’s facing charges of mischief.

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Police noted the suspect is in violation of a previous release order, where he was not to be within one meter of a parking meter and to not possess break-in instruments.

Roughly eight hours later, at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, police say they received a second report of a man breaking into parking meters, this time along Centennial Drive.

READ MORE: Scores of parking meters vandalized in Kelowna

“Within minutes, police arrived and arrested a 35-year-old man from Vernon who was in possession of a home-made device used to retrieve coins from the meters,” police said in a press release.

Police say a citizen had noticed the 35-year-old in the area the day before and became suspicious of him.

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According to police, the man will appear in court on charges of mischief, theft and fail to comply with a probation order.

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“It takes a team effort to mitigate crime in the downtown core of Vernon.  Police cannot be everywhere to see crime as it happens,” said Cpl. Tania Finn.

“We are appreciative of those who take the time to call us when they witness a crime or observe something they feel a police officer should check out.”

Both police and the City of Vernon told Global News that they did not know how many parking meters were broken into, though the city said staff members are collecting information to make a report to city council.

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