By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The illegal quest for copper wire has led to an unwelcome visit by the Grinch to Gentry Manor.
The Chatham business, known for its artistic flair – both in and out of the building – has witnessed an influx of vandalism in recent weeks.
One early morning incident stands out. On Nov. 21, an unmasked thief brought some tools to cut wire from Gentry Manor’s Christmas display. At 3:30 a.m. a lone male cut wires and extension cords, destroying hundreds of dollars’ worth of holiday lights.
According to co-owner James Lizotte, the thief ruined the connections to four elegant scrolls that light up, and it’s unclear if they can be fixed.
“They cut the wire right at the base,” Lizotte said. “We’re looking into fixing them but we’re not sure if we can.”
Lizotte said the scrolls he purchased 10 years ago have been ruined for a paltry bit of copper wire.
“Do we bother fixing them and putting them up again?” Lizottte asked. “I don’t know.”
Lizotte said the incident has been captured on video by the business’ security cameras, and the evidence has been turned over to the Chatham-Kent Police Service.
Normally, Lizotte and partner Thomas Smith, who live upstairs in the building, are alerted to trespassers by their surveillance system. But on the night in question, the system wasn’t operating as it normally does due to a software update.
Lizotte is hoping police will increase patrols and make an arrest.
“They (police) should be able to do something,” Lizotte added. “The thieves have to be selling this copper wire somewhere. Somebody’s buying it. Do the police know?”
Lizotte said early morning visitors around the shop are nothing new, as people are “coming and going” at all hours. He said he’s heard similar stories from other business owners in the area of Queen Street and Park Street, complaining about people roaming the streets and setting off alarms during the night.
The incident has cast a pall on the holiday spirit at Gentry, particularly as around $3,000 worth of Christmas trees and decor were added to boost Gentry Manor’s holiday look this year.
“People love to come and see the Christmas displays,” Lizotte said.