The District of Port Hardy is hoping the addition of high-quality video surveillance cameras, with live feeds, will be enough to deter thieves from breaking into the museum.
From April until July there have been five break-ins resulting in internal damage of about $1,000 and the theft of about $4,000 worth of Aboriginal jewellery and merchandise. All jewellery is now locked away at night.
So far, the district has spent in the neighbourhood of $12,000 fixing windows which includes $5,000 for the purchase and installation of security cameras.
At a committee of the whole meeting Aug. 9, council discussed various options for addressing the recent rash of break-ins at the Museum.
These included: doing nothing; replacing windows with stronger glass ($3,000 to $4,000 plus taxes); installing external shutters ($15,453.90 to $22,813 plus taxes); and putting up exterior security bars ($3,600 plus taxes).
Councillor Jessie Hemphill said she would like to see electric shutters installed.
Councillor Rick Marcotte said he felt security bars “would give the impression that the whole downtown areas in unsafe.”
Councillor Pat Corbett-Labatt agreed saying that security bars “doesn’t add to the ambience.”
Councillor Dennis Dugas said that since the cameras have been installed there have been no further incidents.
“It seems to have had some impact,” said Councillor Fred Robertson.
Hemphill said there were already cameras inside the museum which did not stop people from breaking into the building and that she would like to see shutters in place “as a measure to preserve Jane’s (Hutton) sanity.” Shutters are the best option “in terms of meeting Jane’s needs.”
In the end, council agreed to replace the glass with the strongest available and install shutters if there is another break-in.
Later in the meeting, Acting Detachment Commander Cpl. Stu Foster, who attended to present the Port Hardy RCMP’s quarterly statistics, said an arrest was made for one of the break-ins, but they were advised by the Crown that there was insufficient evidence to, successfully, take the case to trial.
“I think we’re dealing with a number of individuals,” Foster said, adding that typically “property crime is driven by drugs.”