A Maple Ridge business owner is frustrated that her shop has been repeatedly targeted by vandals.
Taryn Stephenson said her T’s Once Upon a Tea Leaf business has been vandalized twice in the past few months.
The most recent attack took place on Thursday around 3:30 a.m. A suspect was caught on video smashing in the front window and throwing an apparent smoke bomb into the store.
“When you own a business you anticipate that maybe someone will smash and grab and that’s just kind of the part of owning a business in 2023 … but when I watched the footage and watched that plume of smoke … I just started sobbing,” Stephenson said.
“We have worked so hard and we’ve been in this community for 16 years. It hurts.”
The smoke bomb had left a residue on all the merchandise in the store, ruining products.
“It’s everywhere. There is no way I would feel comfortable selling a product that has been covered in a chemical that I have no idea what it is,” she said.
It’s covered under insurance but she said the cleanup will close the store for at least a month.
Between the loss of business and replacing the stock while waiting for insurance — Stephenson said the short-term future of the business is “scary.”
“The initial feeling is I don’t know if we will recover from this,” she said.
The first incident is eerily similar to the second. On June 25, a suspect broke a front window and threw inside a bear mace can that had been zap-strapped to keep it spraying until empty.
A fundraiser has been created to help support the business as it recovers.
Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed the vandalism and said an investigation is ongoing.
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