You'd think a quiet stroll in the forest would be relaxing, and it was for a short time.
A friend of mine returned to his vehicle Wednesday and discovered someone had brazenly hacked the muffler and catalytic converter from the underside of his SUV while he was basking in the forest's fall glory with his canine companion.
That's a pretty bold act, considering it happened midweek, between 2 and 3 p.m., on the rail trail near Georgian Downs in Innisfil, just outside the Barrie city limits on Veterans Drive, north of Innisfil Beach Road.
"When I started up the truck, it sounded god-awful," he says. "I couldn’t figure out why. I thought I’d backed over something. The sound was practically deafening as I made my way to my trusty mechanic."
The mechanic slid under the truck and within about 10 seconds, before he’d even come out from underneath, said to call the cops and the insurance company to fill out a report.
The thieves had neatly removed about a metre of pipe and the catalytic converter, which apparently can fetch between $600 and $800 on the black market.
Apparently, according to the South Simcoe police officer, this type of crime is more common in the Toronto area where thieves are after the platinum and other precious metals contained in the catalytic converter. It was a crime of opportunity.
But that's still pretty good coin for someone who's obviously willing to take the big risk in the middle of the day to slide under someone's vehicle and saw their way to a lucrative pay day.
"I’d like to know how these thieves fence this stuff," my friend said.
I guess no one should really be surprised. Thieves will do pretty much anything for money, whether it's to put food on the table during what could be difficult times to perhaps feeding an addiction or habit. Or maybe it's just easy money, plain and simple.
Meanwhile, my friend was driving around town in a vehicle that sounded like it was straight out of the Daytona 500 or an F1 Grand Prix, and we already have enough of those. What a racket in more ways than one.
These may seem like minor thefts, but they can also turn tragic very quickly.
Back in early August 2007, Midhurst resident and detective constable Rob Plunkett, a 22-year veteran with York Regional Police, was killed trying to arrest a young man stealing air-bags in a Markham subdivision. The detective had been crushed against a tree and dragged while trying to arrest the suspect following surveillance as part of an ongoing investigation.
Plunkett, 43, was pronounced dead in hospital later that morning.
As a crime reporter at the time at the Barrie Examiner, I was sent to York Region to cover the news conference just hours later. I don't think there's any way to truly describe the mood.
Plunkett left behind a wife and three teenaged children. He was heavily involved in the Special Olympics and the annual torch run now bears his name. Other fundraisers also honour his memory and all he did for his community.
What may seem like petty crimes can change many lives in an instance.