No alarm system in place at building where intruders had free reign to create some $100K worth of damage
It’s been a less-than-happy New Year at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, as the Elmira recreation facility is recovering from a break-in on the night of New Year’s Eve that left thousands of dollars worth of destruction.
What was damaged overnight? “What wasn’t damaged?” said Jennifer Horndl, facilities supervisor at the WMC. Trophy cases, glass panels, computer monitors, telephones, and office windows were smashed with fire extinguishers. Both pools have been drained to clear shards of glass from the upstairs fitness centre window. Damage was also incurred to the doors of the youth centre, and to the glass panels at both hockey arenas (with the Jim McLeod Memorial Arena suffering more than the Dan Snyder).
In addition, a fish tank in the youth centre was smashed, with one fish found dead in a pool. Blood was spread throughout the building.
“We believe the incident occurred between 12:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on New Year’s Eve,” said Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris of the Waterloo Region Police Service. “We can’t say how long they were in the building, but we do believe there were multiple suspects, and detectives are following up on several leads they’ve received from the community.”
The centre was closed on Thursday to assess/repair damage. Horndl hopes the arenas will be open in time for this weekend’s hockey games, with the pools and other facilities re-opened within the next week.
“I’ve got a lot of calls and emails from people within minor hockey asking if they can help with the cleanup,” said Rob Waters, president of Woolwich Minor Hockey. “I think a lot of people are really outraged at this.
“With the ice storm, we had a number of games cancelled too. We have to have our games in by January 6, and if we lose another day, we’ll have to have scheduling changes,” he added.
“We’ve already had a restoration company come in and I can’t believe the progress that’s been made overnight,” said Horndl of Winmar Property Restoration.
While the doors were locked, the $23 million centre was not equipped with an alarm system or security cameras upon its 2009 opening. There is currently no official damage estimate. Mayor Todd Cowan has told media that a security system will be a top priority for the township’s 2014 budget.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Waterloo Regional Police Service at 519-650-8500, ext. 6399 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).