Trans Mountain equipment destroyed in suspected act of vandalism: Merritt RCMP

Click to play video: 'Heavy equipment destroyed on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion site near Merrit' Heavy equipment destroyed on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion site near Merrit
A piece of heavy equipment on a Trans Mountain pipeline expansion site has been destroyed in a suspected act of vandalism – May 21, 2020

Merritt RCMP is now investigating what it is calling an act of vandalism after a piece of heavy equipment on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was destroyed. Work is underway to expand the existing pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast.

READ MORE: TMX pipeline laying nearly half done in Edmonton region

Police say equipment at a site near Merritt in the B.C. interior was the target of an act of vandalism and theft one day, and the subject of a suspicious blaze on another day.

On May 19 during the early morning hours, RCMP received a report of a suspicious vehicle fire, involving a blue Peterbilt rope truck used at the site.

Police say the same vehicle was the target in an act of mischief and a fuel theft earlier in the weekend.

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A picture provided to police of the blue and yellow 2018 Peterbilt tractor rope truck prior to the blaze. Provided by Merritt RCMP. Provided by Merritt RCMP

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The fire scene had been secured by Merritt RCMP, for a full examination completed by forensic specialists and fire investigators with the RCMP Southeast District General Investigation Section, Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, media relations officer for the RCMP Southeast District, said in a release.

RCMP has since learned that there were individuals camping over the weekend in the immediate area of the impacted vehicle. GIS investigators are seeking to identify those campers, as they may hold key information.

Police are also asking all motorists who may have travelled through the area of Highway 5A and Tillery Road, outside of Merritt, on the evening of May 18 into the early morning hours of May 19, to review their dash camera footage and contact police.

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At this stage of the investigation it is unknown whether the acts were targeted in nature or simply crimes of opportunity, O’Donaghey said.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Merritt RCMP Detachment at 250-378-4262 or the RCMP Southeast District GIS team at 250-869-2215. For those who wish to remain completely anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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