- Our Town
Vandals target news boxes
Every year, vandals cost the Salmon Arm Observer and Shuswap Market News at least $2,000 by destroying or vandalizing drop boxes.
“It’s ongoing but worse at some times of the year,” says circulation manager Valerie McMillen.
One driver had to deal with a particularly disgusting mess three weeks ago in Sicamous. When he went to fill the drop box, he discovered someone had thrown up in a food container and tossed it into the box.
“We had to pay the driver extra to clean up before he could put the papers in,” says McMillen with disgust.
Vandals struck in Salmon Arm over the Canada Day long weekend, setting fire to a box located at 30th Street and 60th Avenue NE.
While the fire went out on its own, it completely destroyed the inside of the box and could easily have started a wildfire, given increasingly dry conditions. Two more Salmon Arm boxes were vandalized over the long weekend as well – one at 10th Avenue SE near Highway 97B and another near Little Mountain Park.
“Doors were ripped off and the posts were sawed in half; it took a lot of effort,” she says. “Basically in the last week, it has cost us $1,000 to fix six boxes, buying materials and paying to have the work done to repair them or replace them.”
In June, all the drop boxes along Salmon Valley Road between Salmon Arm and Branchflower Road were duct-taped closed after photos of naked women were deposited inside. And nearby Canada Post mailboxes were tipped over.
McMillen says vandals often target both the newspaper and Canada Post boxes at the same time. The worst of the drop-box vandalism occurs on Ford Road in Tappen, in Malakwa, Silver Creek, Gleneden and at Salmon Arm locations where the visibility is poor.
During the winter, McMillen often gets complaints from people who say the boxes have been emptied before they can get a paper.
“In areas that do not have natural gas, the papers are often removed and used as fire starters, or rolled tightly and used as fire logs,” she says. “When a box with 60 papers is empty within a couple of hours in the dead of winter, it’s obvious what’s happening.”
For both environmental and press cost reasons, the number of papers for each box is closely regulated.
“If people witness vandalism they can report it to the RCMP or the Salmon Arm office (at 250-832-2131),” says McMillen. “There is an ongoing file with the RCMP with regard to the boxes.”