Central Saanich Police Department is recommending charges of criminal mischief against two 17-year-old boys from North Saanich after they spun their pick-up trucks across a local hay-growing field Saturday night.
Deputy Chief Derren Lench of CSPS said a third boy from Sidney accompanied the duo, but won’t face any charges because he was a passenger in one of the vehicles. All three attend local high schools and have no prior criminal record.
“It seems to be innocuous, but unfortunately, it causes a lot of damage for local farms,” he said.
Ryan Vantreight, general manager of Longview Farms, said staff are still assessing the damage that the trio caused, but current estimates peg the damage in the thousands of dollars.
“There are two separate parts to this,” he said. “There is the loss of income from the bales of hay that we sell to the local community, as well as the [cost] of repairing and re-seeding the field,” he said. The farm also stands to lose one future season of sales, he added.
For Vantreight, Saturday’s incident was not a case of boys being boys. “This is not something that should happen,” he said. “It’s not a source of fun. Go have fun somewhere else. There are many other ways to have fun.”
Incidents of this sort have and will continue to impact the livelihood of farmers, he said, a point the farm made earlier on its Facebook page. “It has far reaching effects that make an already challenging industry harder to manage,” it reads. “This is a direct attack on farmers and their livelihood and needs to stop. It needs to stop now.”
Vantreight became aware of the situation after neighbours spotted the youths Saturday night after the vehicles got stuck in the dirt and mud. Tow trucks and police eventually responded to the scene.
“This happens to all farmers in the area, one time or another, depending on where they are situated,” said Vantreight. “There have been incidents off Lochside Drive, there have been incidents off Wallace Drive.”
Lench says local police deal with a couple of comparable cases every year.
“I don’t recall Longview, but it usually happens every year on Michell Farms,” he said.
Vantreight hopes the incident will bring about a change in attitude.
“I really don’t think that the kids, who went in there, thought, ‘we are going to stick it to a farmer,’” he said. “I think they just didn’t have that light bulb come on. They didn’t realize until they got caught how serious this was.”
This said, one of the youth seems to have experienced one such moment, albeit with some help.
“One of the youths came this morning when we opened our doors to meet me face-to-face and apologize,” said Vantreight. “He was escorted by his parents. But those kinds of things do have an impact. Unfortunately, it is too late. But I do believe that the experience that these youths have had will impact others, because I know that these two vehicles are not the only two vehicles that do this type of thing on the Peninsula. They are just the ones that got caught.”
If convicted, possible penalties for criminal mischief include prison, probation with community work, a fine, or restitution.
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