Cross-country longboard helmet promoters delayed by theft.
Rolling across Canada to promote sport and recreation safety, two southern Ontario men have found Winnipeg’s crime throwing up an obstacle. The coast-to-coast campaign by longboarders Mike Harris and Jeff Abbott, to promote helmet use in sports, hit a wall Monday night when their van was broken into downtown, and equipment and other possessions valued in total at up to $8,000 were stolen from it.
“This sucks. Not the city — the city is nice. People are friendly here, for the most part,” Harris, 27, told the Winnipeg Sun on Wednesday. “But there are some bad ones, and we’ve had a run-in with a couple.” Harris cites “a couple” of problems here, because of a double-whammy of Manitoba property crime that he and Abbott, 24, have been hit with this week. Before arriving in Winnipeg, the men from Waterloo, Ont., lost a second longboard in a theft from the 2011 GMC Savannah while they were in Portage la Prairie days ago.
Until reaching Manitoba, the travellers had experienced no such crime since leaving Vancouver to begin their trek — taking turns alternating between longboarding and driving the van — on May 1.
Staying at a downtown Winnipeg hotel, they thought that Harris’ locked van would be safe while parked with its contents mostly out of sight and its rear doors against a fence on a lot in the area of Donald Street and St. Mary Avenue. By smashing a window, a thief took one of their longboards — longer forms of skateboards — in addition to protective clothing, a medical kit, shoes and other items including about $5,000 in gift cards for food and gasoline that they were to use all the way to St. John’s, N.L.
They had planned to leave Winnipeg on Wednesday to continue their information campaign and fund-raising trip, trying to drum up $100,000 for the Brain Injury Association of Canada, though the loss of their gear will likely force them to remain in the city until the end of the week. Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone, called the theft “unfortunate.” He described such thefts as a “city-wide” problem. “And we would encourage motorists parking anywhere to not leave valuables in their cars,” he said.
If there’s any good luck, Harris said, it’s that they haven’t yet lost any helmets on their trip. “Wear a helmet. That’s what we’re doing this for,” he said. “That’s our message.” Harris and Abbott are promoting their journey online at www.shred4acause.ca