VERNON - Vernon can't fix its vandalized parking meters fast enough.
The City has been dealing with continued damage to its parking meters for roughly a year, protective services manager Clint Kanester says.
“It’s off and on. We’ll catch someone and then often it’s the same guy who gets out after his couple days in jail and starts it again,” Kanester says.
In 2015, more than 100 parking meters were damaged, resulting in some $25,000 to $30,000 in repairs — not to mention lost revenue.
A 34-year-old man was arrested for the 100 damaged meters, and court records show Mitchell Szekely received a 20-day jail sentence and 12 month probation for one count of theft under $5,000.
According to Kanester, four different individuals have been identified and caught, sometimes multiple times, breaking into meters over the past year.
“Just recently we had our first kindness meter broken into,” Kanester says of the bright orange meters.
To crack down on the vandalism, bylaw officers have been working overtime past normal shifts, which has yielded results in several cases with charges being laid due to bylaw officer’s testimony.
Kanester says they are also looking at other options for the meters specifically, but declined to go into details so as not to tip off potential criminals.
He says it would be helpful if judges imposed restrictions on offenders to ban them from touching parking meters at all.
“One guy, he also had charges from Vancouver and had restrictions not to touch a parking meter,” Kanester says. “We would like to see those restrictions on these individuals.”
It’s hard to say how much money has been stolen from the meters, but Kanester says it’s not likely very much.
“There’s not a lot of money in them,” Kanester says. “It’s the damage that costs the community a significant amount of money.”
He says if the vandalism continues unabated, bylaw will likely have to request additional funds from council.
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