Red Deer’s Royal Canadian Legion is boosting its security after being repeatedly targeted by thieves.
Since April, thieves have broken into the Bremner Avenue building five times, smashing windows, breaking open an ATM and prying open vending machines.
Legion president Bev Hanes said the building was broken into three times in August alone, twice in one three-day stretch.
Thousands of dollars in damage has been done to windows, patio doors and other Legion property.
More expensive repairs have been required for vending machines and the ATM owned by other businesses.
Hanes said they are upgrading their security system and a local company that employs some military veterans and former RCMP officers heard of their plight and volunteered to help with security monitoring and to do drive-bys.
The patio doors are still boarded up from the most recent break-ins. About $2,500 in damage was caused. Before the damage from one break-in could be repaired burglars were at it again.
It is disheartening, she agrees.
“It is because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. We’ve had to change some of our staff hours and we are concerned about some of the people who are in our Molly B’s Lounge later in the evening by themselves.”
Hanes said despite the security system and video surveillance the crooks are in and out so quickly by the time police arrive the culprits are gone.
It’s frustrating because although the Legion is insured, most of the repair costs fall under their deductible and must be paid out of pocket.
Some of the damage is pointless. A drum that holds members’ chips for a daily 50/50 draw was smashed open even though it clearly held no money.
“That made no sense whatsoever,” she said. Other damage was done to a desk when drawers were pried open.
The Legion are not the only ones victimized. She was told that the company that owns the Legion’s vending machines had a number of its machines broken into elsewhere in town.
Word has spread in the community about the Legion’s break-ins. One woman who contacted the Red Deer Advocate was angry that an organization like the Legion would be targeted.
“I’m upset because this is not only for the older veterans it’s for our veterans nowadays. There just doesn’t seem to be any respect,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
“(The Legion) just does so much good.”