Tim Rennie has spent years behind bars for theft but last week the tables turned and Rennie, now homeless, became the victim.
Rennie, who spent two years in a Mission penitentiary for break and enter, as well as fraud crimes committed in Courtenay, was knocking on doors looking for bottles last Thursday when he thought he hit a gold mine.
Rennie said the resident of a home on the Old Island Highway directed him to another location where he knew there would be an abundance of cans and bottles.
“The fellow said he didn’t have any bottles but said he had a party house on Greenwood and in the backyard there were tons of bottles,” Rennie said.
After making his way across town, Rennie, who was growing tired, did not want to push his shopping cart full of bottles – worth about $50-$60 – up the hill so he left it at the bottom, at 12th Avenue and Greenwood.
Rennie went around to the back of the “party house” and couldn’t believe his luck when he found another shopping cart already full of bottles sitting in the backyard.
Rennie started down the hill to retrieve his own shopping cart only to discover his shopping cart was gone.
“I went ‘no way’. I almost started crying when I saw that,” Rennie said. “I was devastated. I phoned the bottle depot to see if anyone had come in. I walked up and down through the back alleys and hoped I’d see the bottles in someone’s backyard.”
But no such luck.
Rennie said he never went to the police because he felt it would be impossible to prove what happened. Plus, he’s already on the RCMP’s radar.
“I didn’t file a report because of my background,” Rennie said. “I don’t go to the police for help because I have quite the history.”
Rennie has an adult criminal record dating back to 1974. His crime spree took off when he was just 14-years-old in Edmonton, where he grew up. With the help of his buddies, he stole a car and claims he kidnapped a banker’s son. He served two years in juvenile detention and when he got out, continued to get himself into trouble.
As a young adult he began breaking into homes and fell into the role of drug debt enforcer.
He spent years in and out of jail before settling in Campbell River. Unfortunately, an addiction to heroin led him to a number of break and enters in Courtenay to support his habit.
Rennie said after being released from prison in Mission on Oct. 28, 2010 he spent one and a half years in Kelowna and cleaned up his act. He worked as a caretaker for the parks and recreation centre in Kelowna and, as a born-again Christian, worked as a groundskeeper for the Evangel Church.
But now he’s back in Campbell River, says he’s been off drugs for three years, and has been here for about four weeks, looking for work.
“I lived here before for about five years and I love Campbell River,” Rennie said. “It’s a giving town.”
Which is why he can’t believe someone would steal his bottles.
“That’s pretty bad when you’re stealing from the homeless,” Rennie said. “This is totally wrong. Sure I’ve got a bad past but that’s just...wow.”
Rennie said the only thing that helps him get past the hurt and the anger is trying to stay upbeat and positive.
“I just want to send word out to whoever took it that I’m very disappointed in their actions but obviously they needed it more than I did,” Rennie said. “I’m hoping it went to something good.
“Whoever took it, I hope they put it to good use. It’s hard to look at it from that side, but I’m trying.”
For now, Rennie continues going door to door looking for bottles to help him get buy and hopes to get off the streets soon.