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Abbotsford man out nearly $6,000 in plumbing tools after theft from locked truck

Plumber had been grieving his father when thief broke into canopy to take livelihood
Plumber Brian McCann is out nearly $6,000 in tools after a thief broke into his locked canopy while McCann was dealing with the death of his father. ICBC doesn’t cover content insurance, so he’s struggling to get back to work. (Submitted photo)

An Abbotsford man has learned the hard way that ICBC’s theft coverage doesn’t include a vehicle’s contents.

Brian McCann works as a plumber and normally brings his tools into his home at night. But just over a week ago, his father died and he left everything as it was to be with his mom.

“I never left my mom’s side, and I guess thinking about running home and taking tools out of my truck didn’t make it to the page,” he said. “Basically my tools got left by the wayside.”

Even though the tools were under a locked canopy, they caught the attention of a thief who was prowling the Swensson Park neighbourhood in the pre-dawn hours last Monday. A neighbour watched him going to doorways and trying vehicles’ door handles. When he approached the suspected thief, the man became angry and yelled at the neighbour, who then went inside to call 911 instead.

That phone call lasted about 35 minutes and, during the call, the neighbour watched helplessly as the man stole McCann’s livelihood. But he did not feel safe to approach the man based on his first angry outburst. The man, who had a vehicle, drove away with the load of plumbing tools, including power tools and those specific to plumbing needs. In total, it was nearly $6,000 worth of tools.

McCann is glad his neighbour didn’t interfere more, as it turns out the thief was armed with a knife to be able to cut straps to access the tools.

The theft was completed just a few moments before McCann went outside to commute to Surrey where he works, just before 6 a.m.

His truck’s dashcam records even when the truck is parked and off. McCann spent time going through all the footage from the night before, and has given images to the police to help with the eventual arrest of the thief. The whole theft took about 19 and a half minutes, he said.

Abbotsford Police also took fingerprints of the back of his truck and canopy, and it is being actively investigated.

McCann said, had the police attended sooner, they could have caught the thief in action and recovered his tools.

“They had 35 minutes to come and arrest him,” he said.

Sgt. Paul Walker of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) told The News that this is a call that would have normally had immediate police response. However, it happened at the same time as a serious assault on South Fraser Way that left a man in critical condition.

“The delay in dispatching this type of call is not normal,” Walker confirmed. “As a result of the assault, all on-duty officers were diverted to this call to manage the scene, assist with lifesaving care and to attempt to locate the suspects. Once the scene was under control and additional officers came on duty, the (theft) file was dispatched.”

While McCann was reviewing the tapes, he discovered some more suspicous activity. He believes he saw several drug deals take place at Swensson Park, and he sees a strong connection between the two criminal activities.

“Because they are choosing to meet people there, they are also bringing these drug addicts to my neighbourhood,” he said.

McCann is in the process of setting up a GoFundMe account, to be called “Brian McCann Tools Recoup.” His boss has let him come to work without tools and work in other ways on site, but that can’t last forever, he said.

The loss of his tools couldn’t have come at a worse time. He has just taken two weeks off work due to his father’s death, and he is in the middle of moving to Langley.

On top of all that, he learned that ICBC doesn’t cover contents of a vehicle, even with the best comprehensive insurance. For that, an insurer needs to buy third-party content insurance.

Thankfully, his late father was a plumber, too. In fact, he was a chief plumber for the City of Abbotsford for some time.

McCann has been able to rummage through his father’s tools to find some replacements such as copper cutters. And his co-workers have given him spares of small hand tools, including a hammer. Another friend bought him an industrial tape measure.

He still needs a laser level, a reciprocating saw and a wirsbo gun (something nobody but a plumber would need, he adds). Even his rolling case to go from site to site was taken.

But with the loss of income behind him, and the moving costs ahead of him, he’s not sure he’ll be able to fully get back to work anytime soon.

Walker said McCann and his neighbour did everything right, that it was just bad timing.

However, he said the APD does not encourage people to confront suspects. Instead, observe from a distance and call 911, providing as many details as possible.

As for suspicious drug activity, he said the public can report this activity when observed by texting the police dispatch centre at 222973 or by calling the non-emergency number, 604-859-5225, for police to be dispatched.

“Our front-line officers, along with our citizens patrol vehicles, patrol our parks and areas of common suspicious activity throughout each week on a proactive basis, when time allows, to discourage this type of activity,” he said.

READ MORE: Homeless camp torched under the Vedder River bridge near Chilliwack


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Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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