The Eckville credit union bank was extensively damaged during a break-in attempt on Tuesday. (Contributed image by Fallon Elayne Moos, Community Crime Watch).

The Eckville credit union bank was extensively damaged during a break-in attempt on Tuesday. (Contributed image by Fallon Elayne Moos, Community Crime Watch).

Eckville bank smashed by backhoe in break-in attempt

Police are investigating extensive damage to credit union

Would-be thieves used a semi truck and backhoe to try to smash into an Eckville bank — but the break-in was interrupted and police were alerted.

RCMP were called at about 4:50 a.m. on Tuesday about a semi tractor-trailer and excavator parked suspiciously close to the Mountain View Financial Credit Union in Eckville.

Officers arrived and found the tractor-trailer still running — with no suspects around, said Cpl. Laurel Scott, of RCMP media relations.

“The semi truck was still idling … but whether the suspects left shortly before (police arrived) or a long time before, we don’t know,” she said.

The heavy equipment had been used to damage the bank building, including crushing eaves, doors and windows and smashing a partial hole in an exterior wall.

Scott surmises would-be thieves were trying to get at the bank machine inside, but didn’t get to carry out the theft. There was no damage to the bank vault or ATM.

Scott said police are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed activity around the bank early Tuesday morning.

Assessors are tabulating the extent of the damage to the building — some of which is likely structural, said Mark Baron, vice-president of retail banking for Mountain View Financial.

“It received quite a jolt,” so he expects a sizable damage estimate.

The vandalism didn’t keep the financial institution from opening and conducting business as usual Tuesday. But the crime is disheartening, said Baron.

He noted many banks in rural communities without a local police presence have been hit by criminals, including those in Priddis, Acme, Bragg Creek, Thorsby and Breton.

He has heard some of these communities now have their own neighbourhood watch groups, in which citizens take turns doing night patrols.

Baron’s glad someone in Eckville heard the early morning crashing and alerted police.

Scott also credits citizens who are on the lookout and notify RCMP of suspicious activities in their community.

“It’s a good thing when anyone calls to relay what’s happening,” she said.

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