The window and the door was boarded-up after the vandals broke-in the first time and smashed the glass. (Laura Blackwell photo)

The window and the door was boarded-up after the vandals broke-in the first time and smashed the glass. (Laura Blackwell photo)

We are the victims of break-ins and now we are getting evicted,’ says Small Town Vape Store owner

Break-in attempt at Small Town Vape in Burns Lake thwarted by the RCMP

  • Sep. 2, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The Small Town Vape Store in Burns Lake has become a target of another break-in and is now facing eviction after the attempted theft.

On Aug. 19, the RCMP responded to the the vape store on Highway 16 at around 2 a.m. They found an individual trying to break into the store and were able to apprehend him.

RCMP’s Burns Lake detachment commander, Shaunna Lewis, said that although one of the perpetrators was arrested additional details could only be shared once formal charges were laid.

This is the third such incident at the vape store in two months. In July, the store was broken into twice and the perpetrators made away with more than $2,000 in stolen products and damaged the property. The store has since been boarded up to secure the door and windows.

RELATED: Two break-ins at Small Town Vape

On top of the break-ins, the owners of the store are now facing eviction.

“Now our landlord is evicting us for getting broken into. The owner of the building is evicting us because somebody tried to break-in to our store. She says it causes problems for the whole building. So we are victims of a crime and you guys are going to evict us now? It is just very disappointing,” said Trent Nixon, the owner of the store. The landlord has given the store a month’s notice to move out.

When asked about the eviction, Jen McPhail, a representative for the Evergreen Mall Ltd. said, “We at Evergreen Mall Ltd., feel that the safety and well-being of all our tenants are a top priority. Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on the specifics of a tenant’s lease agreement due to confidentiality but can comment that Evergreen Mall Ltd. has been broken into on four separate instances.”

McPhail also said that the investigation into each of those instances found that the break-ins were targeted towards a specific business and that suspects from two of the four break-ins had been apprehended by the RCMP. She also added that even though the target was one specific business, there was substantial damage done to other businesses within the building. She however refused to share any details.

“We can confirm that a decision was made after careful consideration and hearing the safety concerns of our tenants and within the parameters of commercial rental law, notice was served on a business on the basis of restoring the health and safety of other tenants and businesses within Evergreen Mall Ltd.,” she said.

However, for Nixon, moving out on such a short notice is not only impossible, but also could mean shutting down his business in Burns Lake. He is also worried about the three employees he has.

“We have a single mom, a young man and another mom [as our employees] and they are going to lose their jobs because we got broken into. It is very, very frustrating and makes me very angry,” said Nixon who is now looking at a legal recourse to get out of the eviction.

“We are going to look into it and see if she has the right to shut us down that quickly because she says she is worried about the safety of the other businesses, but we are the ones that are being targeted and nobody else,” said Nixon, adding that while the business was gearing up to put in some bars on the inside windows, the landlord is not giving them enough time to get that done.

“She said that we haven’t done our part in securing the business. We have alarm systems, we have everything so it doesn’t make much sense. I guess she doesn’t want to deal with the break-ins either, but we are the victims of these break-ins and now we are getting our business shut down,” added Nixon.

Nixon, who lives on the Southside, owns two more vape stores, one of which is in Terrace. If the business is shut down, he feels that it would upset a lot of customers.

“There are a lot of people that rely on our store. There are lots who quit smoking and are vaping and by Jen McPhail shutting us down like that, there is not a lot of rental space in Burns Lake as you know, not for the type of store we have anyways. It is just very disappointing, I am very upset,” said Nixon.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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