Eighty kids at a Winnipeg daycare centre are unable to be driven to their schools this week, after enterprising thieves siphoned the gas out of the centre’s transport vans.
“It’s a crazy story,” Little People’s Place director Carol Jones told Global News.
“Monday morning, I arrived at the daycare, ready to transport our children to their schools and discovered the gas had been siphoned out of the gas tanks.
“We later discovered they had not siphoned them in the usual manner — they had actually drilled holes into the gas tanks, destroying the gas tanks and making them unusable.”
Jones said Little People’s Place is out around $700 in gas costs, as they had to refill the vans to discover the holes — plus there’s an Autopac deductible of $750 for each of the three vehicles.
“These 80 children and their families don’t have transportation to school until these vans are fixed,” she said. “If you can’t have transportation to get your kids to school, then you don’t have child care either — and that, of course, affects all of our families in regards to their work and school status.
“It affects us because we can’t provide the child care, so financially, that’s a huge burden on the centre.”
Jones said there’s no timeline on when the vans will be fixed, and once they are, there’s still the problem of securing them against future theft, as they’re stored in an open parking lot.
“What’s to stop them from coming back and doing it all over again?”
Winnipeg police Const. Dani McKinnon said this kind of gas theft is something the service is watching, but it hasn’t become widespread in the city yet.
“I wouldn’t say in the last little bit we’ve seen a significant amount, enough to call it a trend, but certainly it is on the radar right now,” McKinnon said.
“I would imagine that certainly the motive driving this (is that) the cost of gas has certainly gone through the sky.”
“There are some individuals who will be suffering over the pandemic, and this is a crime of opportunity, so they will take advantage of that, unfortunately.”
McKinnon said vehicle owners should — whenever possible — park their vehicles in a garage, or in a well-lit area, and check them from time to time to prevent this type of theft.