Following a disastrous May flood, the Village of Fort Simpson suffered added insult when a municipal vehicle was found torched on the morning of May 19.
Fort Simpson Mayor Sean Whelly stated that an unknown person or persons took a pickup truck from the sewage plant overnight and left it at Martin River.
The vehicle was a 2010 F-250 and used by municipal workers with the sewer collection system, usually for hauling trailers with sewage sludge to the landfill.
Kevin Corrigan, the village’s assistant senior administrative officer, said the truck had been accidentally left with the keys in it overnight. It was found about 15 km to the south, completely burnt.
“It was still in good shape (prior to the fire),” Corrigan said. “Although older, it was in good condition.”
The entire body of the vehicle was severely blackened by fire. While the fire department responded, there wasn’t much left to put out when they arrived, Corrigan said.
“It was completely torched and likely soaked in gas, and completely lit up,” he said.
Corrigan said the village had been planning to purchase two new pickup trucks this year and will likely now need to add a third.
Whelly offered a $500 reward of his own money to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest or conviction of the person responsible for the crime.
“That will be me paying out of my pocket,” he stated. “To collect, please report to RCMP and make sure you tell me you reported it right after. Nothing to do with the mayor or village.”
Marie York Condon, media spokesperson with the NWT RCMP, said the police believe the theft took place on the morning of May 19.
“Fort Simpson RCMP received a report of a missing Village of Fort Simpson vehicle from a village facility at approximately 7:45 am,” she said. “It is believed the vehicle went missing between the hours of 3:30 am and 7:30 am. The vehicle was later located at the sand pits off Highway 1, at approximately 9:30 am, with significant damage. RCMP are investigating.”
Police say anyone with information is asked to contact Fort Simpson RCMP at 695-1111.
The incident is very disappointing for residents who are trying to help one another during an emergency, Whelly said.
“It was just a disheartening thing to see and I guess you could say you often have a couple of bad apples in the barrel,” he said. “The timing was kind of a little upsetting with the people in the village working together to help each other… The disregard for that type of thing to wilfully destroy something is disappointing.”