This article was updated on Dec. 21 to include a response from ICBC.
A Campbell River resident says she needs help from the community to find out who stole her car, took it for a joyride and torched it on the outskirts of town.
Almost a month after the incident took place, Jaiden Sumner says she has to use her mother’s car to get around because ICBC won’t fulfill her claim. That’s because she can’t prove the car was stolen, she says.
“Basically, they don’t know where to point fingers,” she says. “Until anything’s proven, they can’t help me out.”
Sumner’s ordeal began when she awoke on a Sunday morning, Nov. 25, to learn that police had found her car abandoned off a logging road outside of Campbell River. It was completely destroyed.
“I broke down,” she says. “It was the worst possible feeling.”
Sumner says she parked her dark gray 2005 Toyota Matrix on the street outside her home sometime after midnight. She says the car was parked on Thulin Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenue, near the Museum at Campbell River, and that it disappeared while she was sleeping.
The thief – or thieves – drove the car to what police described as a gravel pit on Duncan Bay Main, near Elk River Main, and set it ablaze, she says. Google Maps indicates that the two logging roads meet just west of the Beaver Lodge Lands and Highway 19.
Photos posted by Sumner on Facebook on Tuesday night show the compact car reduced to a burned-out shell in what appears to be a muddy field surrounded by forest. She says she didn’t attend the scene and the photos were taken by her mother for the insurance claim.
She says that while ICBC and police are doing their best to help, she can’t prove that she didn’t destroy the car for insurance fraud purposes.
Lindsay Wilkins, a senior communications specialist for ICBC, said in a Dec. 21 statement that the “circumstances of this claim are complex and we are currently reviewing this claim.”
Wilkins said claims of this type “take time to investigate and the timelines are set out in ICBC’s optional insurance policy.”
She added: “If a customer has Loss of Use coverage, they would be entitled to a rental vehicle and ICBC will reimburse the customer after the investigation is completed if the claim is valid.”
Sumner is asking for people to come forward with clues.
“They completely torched my vehicle, so there’s no evidence,” she says. “We need the help of the community.”
|Campbell River resident Jaiden Sumner says someone drove her 2005 Toyota Matrix to Duncan Bay Main and then set it ablaze. Photo courtesy Jaiden Sumner|
Due to the insurance impasse, Sumner says she’s using her mother’s car to get around. Sharing a vehicle adds to her difficulties, she says.
The hatchback contained important documents and an iPad, and the car itself had strong sentimental value – it was her first vehicle – as did some of the items inside, including a letter from an ex.
There is at least one promising clue. Someone tried to use a deactivated credit card that was inside the vehicle, she says.
The transaction was declined at the Willow Point 7-Eleven early on the morning of Nov. 25, Sumner says.
She’s hoping that police will be able to use surveillance footage from the store to get to the bottom of things.
But that process is delayed because the credit card company hasn’t yet verified the exact time when the failed transaction took place, she says.
It supposedly occurred at 9:13 a.m. Central Time – but that time zone remains unconfirmed, Sumner says.
She’s asking for anyone with information – including footage captured on surveillance cameras – to contact her or police.
She says someone must have seen or heard something.
“They would’ve bragged about it, they would’ve had video of it, they would have done something stupid along the line,” she says.
Cpl. Ron Vlooswyk, a spokesperson for the Campbell River RCMP, says that police responded to the incident on Nov. 25 and that the case is under investigation.
Mounties from the local detachment respond to an average of 5.17 stolen vehicles per month, and vehicle theft spiked in September with 13 cases, he says. He cautions that those are raw figures subject to change.
A rash of thefts of items from unlocked vehicles remains a bigger problem for the Mounties, according to Vlooswyk.
Earlier this month, police said they received an average of 63 complaints about thefts from vehicles per month since Sept. 1. The cars were unlocked in 90 per cent of the cases, according to the Campbell River RCMP.
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