VERNON - One mistake has led to a lot of hassle and plenty of lost money for a North Okanagan man.
Lumby resident Landon Harris was caught riding his new 2016 Husqvarna motorcycle without insurance last year (something he readily owns up to) and the bike was impounded for a week. That was the last he ever saw of it.
The motorcycle was impounded at KBM Autoworks & Towing, which had a contract with the Lumby RCMP to store vehicles. The day before Harris was supposed to pick it up, the bike was stolen out of the compound. That led Harris to go public with his story and offer a $500 reward for the return of his bike.
But while police did track down and arrest the culprit— Kenneth Morris was sentenced to almost nine months in jail and ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution — the bike itself was never recovered. Harris doubts he will be able to collect from the thief and decided to sue KBM for the money, according to a provincial court judgement delivered in August and released online Sept. 21.
“It’s nuts, but what are you going to do?” Harris said Oct. 10.
In the lawsuit — which Harris lost — he argued that KBM breached its duty of care to prevent the bike from being stolen.
The judge in the case noted a number of security measures, including a high, chain link fence with barbed wire, motion sensor lights and surveillance cameras.
“It was the surveillance footage from these cameras that resulted in the ultimate apprehension of the person who stole the motorcycle,” Judge Dennis Morgan said.
That footage showed the thief entering the compound by squeezing under the front locked gate. After discovering the Husqvarna motorcycle, he left and came back with bolt cutters. He then cut the chains off the gate and pushed the motorcycle out of the lot and into a pick up truck.
Harris argued the bike should have been chained up, with the steering lock engaged. He also expressed concern that the thief got in by simply squeezing under the front gate. KBM said they did not use a chain around the motorcycle itself because they were concerned about causing damage, and believed enough security was in place, according to the judgement.
“The defendant also submits that after a potential thief exhibited enough determination to get that far within the compound, locking the steering lock on the easily transportable motorbike would not have been a disincentive, given the small size of the Husqvarna motorcycle, and that locking the steering mechanism would have been problematic for the defendant's employees if they had to move the bike,” Morgan said.
KBM has since taken steps to block the space under the front gates that the thief initially crawled under, the judgement states.
Judge Morgan said he was sympathetic to Harris’ predicament, but sided with KBM.
“I agree with Mr. Harris that additional security steps could have been taken, but that is not the test. I cannot find that in the circumstances the defendants should be liable for the theft of the motorcycle. I encourage Mr. Harris to not give up on attempting to enforce the restitution order against the thief,” Morgan said.
Harris, who came to the interview dressed in work boots (he runs an equipment company and a scrap metal yard) tells iNFOnews.ca that at this point, he’s giving up and doesn’t ever expect to see a penny from the thief.
“It’s basically ‘how do you bleed a stone?’ How do you bleed someone who has nothing?” he says.
“IT’S AN UNFORTUNATE SITUATION” KBM SAYS
Bill Maltman, with KBM, said Oct. 11 the company does its best to prevent thefts, but no matter how many locks or security cameras you have, protection is never 100 per cent.
“You can only safeguard so much. At the end of that there’s always a criminal that’ll figure out a way to get by it,” Maltman said.
He said it’s too bad Harris didn’t have insurance on the bike, otherwise the theft would likely have been covered.
“If you have something of value, make sure you have insurance on it,” Maltman says. “It was an unfortunate mishap or whatever you want to present it as, but you know, it was also preventable.”
He said thefts are not a common issue at the impound lot, although they have added additional security cameras since the incident.
“I hope the (thief) will look the honourable way and pay Landon out for the bike,” Maltman said.
According to Harris, the thief has made no effort to repay any of the restitution.
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