April 22, 2015 - 1:34 PM
WEST KELOWNA - Faced with an unusual type of vandalism aimed at its irrigation systems, the District of West Kelowna is asking for help trying to put an end to it.
“This isn’t your typical loser kicking over a sprinkler head,” parks supervisor Stacey Harding says. “Whoever is doing this has a knowledge of irrigation systems.”
Harding says someone over the last ten days has broken into and either shut off or destroyed components and control valves inside irrigation control boxes at three separate locations; Brown Road in Westbank Centre, the wine route section of Boucherie Road and the Rosewood sportsfield in Rose Valley.
Harding says the vandal gained access to metal utility vaults with a wrench or socket set before tampering with controls. In one case, the vandal would have then used a special key to turn off a valve about seven feet underground, Harding says.
“Your average person doesn’t have a curb key. That’s something a utility company would have in a service truck. There’s not many people with that knowledge and a bent toward vandalism,” he adds.
While the physical cost of the damage is relatively low, approximately $1,000, Harding says the cost of staff time dealing with the incidents is significantly higher.
“We’ve just finished charging up the system for summer,” Harding says, adding his division oversees approximately 100 irrigation systems. “Now we have to go back through the whole system and run through them again to make sure they are working.”
Harding says the RCMP have opened a file on the vandalism incidents and he is urging the public watch for people in local parks and other civic properties who may be opening up utility vaults at unusual times.
“We work regular days so if someone sees someone who isn’t dressed like a worker going inside a box, please call us or the RCMP,” he says. “It’s causing us a bunch of problems and it is setting us back.”
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