Three Victoria harbour ferries targeted by vandals

Company offers cash reward for information leading to suspects

Senseless.

That is how Barry Hobbis described the work of two vandals Saturday night who slashed the captains’ seats and cut the electrical wiring of two small green ferries and a yellow water taxi belonging to the Victoria Harbour Ferry Company.

“It appeared to be quite targeted,” said Hobbis, the company’s vice-president of operations. “This wasn’t kids jumping a fence and smashing windows or spray painting something. These are two people, in my view, who knew exactly what they were doing.”

In 22 years of operating in Victoria, the boats have never been vandalized, he said.

“We don’t have any disgruntled employees. We don’t have any disgruntled passengers.”

Surveillance footage of the scene revealed two men – who made no attempt to hide their faces – climbing over a two-metre-high security gate at 8:20 p.m. to reach the vessels, which were moored on the east shore of the Inner Harbour, south of the Johnson Street Bridge.

Three vessels were vandalized in a 13-minute span.

“Then they quite casually went back to the gate, climbed over the top and walked away,” Hobbis said. “The interesting thing is, and it’s actually disturbing, when they slashed one of the seats they took the foam rubber from the seat, which is worth about 35 cents.”

Material from two more seats was tossed in the water.

The ferries’ operating systems were also knocked out. The vandals severed 12 electrical wires on each boat, requiring the company to shell out upwards of $3,000 to have the wiring temporarily spliced. The vessels will have to come out of the water to be completely rewired at a cost of several thousand dollars, Hobbis said.

The damage was discovered Sunday morning by a maintenance worker. Hobbis was notified, as were Victoria police.

To ensure the company would be able to meet passenger demand on a typically busy Easter Sunday, two additional ferries were brought in to offset the damaged vessels. The company planned to have seven boats in the water, but was able to service 800 passengers with six vessels, Hobbis said.

The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the identification and apprehension of the suspects.

emccracken@vicnews.com