The community of Stirrngton is reeling from a string of thefts targeting volunteer groups and children.
“This is a problem in our area,” says John Beskers, Acting President of the Storrington Lions Club which had its community hall vandalized the middle of August.
Run by volunteers, the Storrington Lions Club launched a campaign earlier this year to revitalize its aging hall. A popular and affordable meeting place for youth and families, the hall experienced a major setback recently when the air conditioning (AC) unit was vandalized.
“The sides were left in place. The robbers basically just cut everything and took the coil,” says Beskers who discovered the broken equipment while hosting a youth dance at the hall on Aug. 19.
The club estimates it will cost $5,000 to replace the unit; money the club can ill afford.
“We’re disgusted this type of thing is happening in our community,” says Beskers, visibly upset.
A volunteer with other community groups in the district, Beskers is joining a chorus of other residents who say they are troubled by a rash of break-ins, thefts and vandalism in the area.
Beskers cites examples as a broken sign and fence at the local school and a recent break-in and theft at the soccer association’s clubhouse. Other residents in the area have reported items stolen such as ATV’s and bicycles.
One family even went public with a $500 reward for the return of their new four wheeler which was stolen from their house while the family was at work and school.
“We’re here as a service,” Beskers says about Storrington Lions Club.
“We help people by providing an affordable and convenient community hall to connect residents and celebrate life. It’s disheartening to have this happen to us; especially when we’re in the middle of a revitalization campaign. We took a step forward, and now we have taken two steps back. It seems unfair that we have to take money and fix what vandals destroyed on us.”
The club has raised approximately 20 per cent of its fundraising goal of $75,000 to upgrade the washrooms, heating system and entrance ramp. The destruction of the AC is a heavy blow to volunteers who are trying to save the hall.
“It’s disgusting to think there are people in our midst, or outside our community, who would vandalize the Storrington Lions club Hall at a time when the club is working to raise funds to upgrade that much-need facility,” says Ron Sleeth, Storrington District Councillor with South Frontenac Township.
“Unfortunately, it would appear as though there is an increase in vandalism and petty crime in our community. Hopefully the OPP will catch the perpetrators soon.”
Speaking on behalf of the South Frontenac OPP Detachment, Media Relations/Community Safety Officer Roop Sandhu says thieves broke the AC to steal the copper wire. An attempt to vandalize a second AC unit at the hall was unsuccessful.
“The OPP Forensic Identification Unit was called in to gather any evidence at the scene,” confirms Constable Sandu.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what’s happening because it’s so varied,” he replies when asked if vandalism and theft is on the rise in the area. “It’s just a wide-variety of mischief and thefts that is happening.”
To help solve the problem, the OPP encourage residents to call the police at 1-888-310-1122 to report a suspicious person, vehicle or activity.
“Why do people steal stuff like that? It’s tremendously sad,” says Beskers about the missing wires in the club’s AC unit and stolen items from the soccer association’s clubhouse.
“It’s crazy what people will steal these days.”
To help Storrington Lions Club save its community hall, donations are gratefully accepted through the mail at 2992 Princess Road; Inverary ON K0H 1X0 or on the club’s electronic fundraising page Go Fund Me at https://www.gofundme.com/dzyxmr7y