A Nanaimo, B.C., business owner captured a concerning incident on camera recently.
Surveillance footage of the lot of Pure Gold Automotive, located at Bastion Street and Wallace Drive, caught a man early Monday morning smashing a car window parked outside and then throwing something inside it.
The man, who is wearing a hood, then walks away. The car catches fire shortly afterward.
Const. Gary O’Brien with the Nanaimo RCMP said the incident took place around 6 a.m.
“On video, we have an individual going into the parking lot. He’s tinkering with the gas tank of a parked vehicle. Moments later that individual leaves and the car blows up,” he said.
O’Brien said the explosion caused significant damage, including blown-out windows at the automotive shop.
Investigators are working to identify the man, he added. Police are looking at the possibility that the business or vehicle was targeted for some reason, he said.
“As to why, we don’t know,” O’Brien added.
“Based on the evidence to hand, we’re fairly satisfied in saying it’s not a marginalized person.”
O’Brien said it is lucky that no one was injured.
Collen Middleton with the Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association said this is just yet another example of an incident involving violence or fire, incidents that seem to be escalating weekly.
“Most of the fires that get set in the downtown area are accidental and that’s fair,” he said. “But in this one, it looks like this individual was deliberately trying to damage this vehicle for no reason.”
Last week, hundreds of residents rallied at a downtown park, pleading for more action from the government on violent offenders.This came after local business owner Clint Smith was shot in the stomach when he and a group of others decided to go into a homeless encampment to retrieve allegedly stolen property.
O’Brien confirmed Wednesday that no arrests have been made in that case.
“This is an emergency that we’re facing locally, here, and I’d argue provincially,” Middleton said.
“We are desperately calling on all levels of government … to call this what this is, it’s an emergency.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said the automotive shop has been a staple in that area for many years.
“For businesses that are already facing so many challenges, this is just a burden we didn’t need,” he said.
Krog said the city has hired 12 community safety officers, increased the number of RCMP by 15 members over five years and will add more police officers on bikes, but he said the municipality does not have much more jurisdiction to deal with the problem further.