Police report spike in vandalism on church properties in Vancouver

·2 min read
The St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, B.C., was destroyed on July 19 by a fire that's being treated as suspicious. Nearby Vancouver has seen 13 incidents of vandalism or mischief involving church properties since early June, police say. (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC - image credit)
The St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, B.C., was destroyed on July 19 by a fire that's being treated as suspicious. Nearby Vancouver has seen 13 incidents of vandalism or mischief involving church properties since early June, police say. (Eva Uguen-Csenge/CBC - image credit)

The Vancouver Police Department is appealling for witnesses following what it calls a major spike in crimes on church properties this summer.

In a statement Thursday, police said since June 2 there have been 13 incidents of mischief and vandalism on church properties, all of which are now under investigation.

"We're reminding people to be proactive and to report anything unusual at church properties, because we're concerned this could escalate into a situation where someone gets badly hurt," Sgt. Steve Addison said in the statement.

Some of the incidents include rocks being thrown through windows, buildings being defaced with paint and threats to set fire to buildings, police say.

Incidents of note

  • A church building near Little Mountain was vandalized on the evening of June 8. Four people dressed in black threw red paint on the property, posted signs and painted graffiti referencing residential schools.

  • An unknown person threatened to burn down a church in South Vancouver on Canada Day.

  • A church in Renfrew-Collingwood was vandalized around 10:45 p.m. PT on Canada Day by two women who threw orange paint on the side of the building.

  • Sometime between July 4 and July 7, someone threw a rock through the window of a church in the Kitsilano neighbourhood.

  • The pastor of a South Cambie church was making his early-morning rounds on July 20 when he discovered a gallon of lighter fluid and rags near the side of the building around 4 a.m. PT. He also saw a man standing in the middle of the road staring at the church.

Police said though most of these crimes occurred at night or in the early morning, many of the properties can be occupied at all times of day, putting people directly in the line of danger.

Investigators from VPD's Property Crime Unit are gathering evidence and looking for possible links to solve the crimes.

So far, no arrests have been made, Addison said.

"We're growing more concerned each day by the escalation of these crimes and their brazen nature, and we're calling on the people responsible for these crimes to stop. There are more productive ways to voice your anger and express your views," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vancouver police at 604-717-0613.

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