A self-described activist group that allegedly deflated the tires of dozens of SUVs in Greater Victoria now appears to be turning its attention to the Lower Mainland, but a lawyer is warning it could come with some serious consequences.
The international group called Tyre Extinguishers is attempting to draw attention to pollution caused by larger vehicles. In the past few days, the group claims to have hit 34 SUVS in Victoria and Oak Bay and other vehicles in Kitchener, Ont., and according to social media, it is now looking at Vancouver.
Victoria Police Department has opened a file on the environmental action and so far one person in the city has filed a police complaint. Oak Bay police have received eight complaints are tires being deflated.
No arrests have been made yet, however Oak Bay police released a description of a possible suspect. He’s described as thin with light brown hair in his early 20s. He was seen driving away in a light blue car. It’s believed tires were deflated in the early morning hours of July 29.
Criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon warns anyone caught deflating tires could face serious charges depending on if anyone is hurt and how the Crown proceeds.
“I think the most obvious charge that they could face would be a charge of mischief,” Leamon said. “Mischief can be quite a serious charge is the Crown decides to pursue by way of indictment, which would elevate the penalty and even put jail time on the table.”
Leamon says if someone doesn’t check their tires before they drive off and gets into a crash as a result, that could prompt the Crown to seek a harsher sentence.
“I think where you’re putting public health or safety at risk, then there could be a potential for the Crown to decide to proceed by indictment.”
Leaflets left on vehicles explain how SUVs cause more pollution than smaller cars. Their website details how hybrids and electric cars are fair game. Normal sized cars, trades vehicles and cars used for people with disabilities are to be avoided.
But who uses the car is not easy to discern. In San Francisco, a victim who started driving before she realized her tire was flat, uses her SUV to transport young people with disabilities to sporting events. In England, a trauma surgeon was trying to get to work.
In Victoria, Bob Kennedy’s daughter’s SUV was targeted on Friday morning, and he said she noticed the tires were deflated before driving on the flat tire.
“What really concerned me is she is going into her ninth month of pregnancy, that would leave her without a vehicle in the middle of the night if she really needed it,” Kennedy told Mike Smyth on CKNW’s the Mike Smyth show.
“I can’t understand why they would do things like that.”
This latest environmental protest come on the heels of groups like Save Old Growth blocking traffic and vandalizing popular landmarks in order to draw attention to and stop old growth logging in B.C.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that these groups are suing these types of dangerous, quite frankly, tactics in order to get their point across when their point is legitimate,” Leamon said. “But I think that by engaging in these types of unreasonable tactics, they are alienating a large portion of the population.”