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Neighbours rally after thieves hit hospitalized B.C. senior’s home 6 times

Neighbours join to help clean and secure house, owner critical of police response
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Anne Tolmie says her home was broken into six times while she was in the hospital. (Mark Page/News Staff)

A group of Greater Victoria area residents are banding together to help a 78-year-old woman secure her home after six suspected break-ins over the course of two weeks, all while she was in the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Saanich police are investigating the reports and have now been to the property several times, which belongs to Anne Tolmie.

“The Saanich Police have open files into this matter and officers are actively investigating the circumstances,” Inspector Damian Kowalewich said in an email to Black Press Media on Tuesday (May 28).

In what appears to be a series of burglaries, thieves made off with everything from parts of furniture to copper piping. Also missing is some antique dishware — the Tolmie family has a long history in the area and the house is (or was) full of heirlooms — including a 14th century Welsh plate.

She says police did not take her seriously enough at first, and so the break-ins kept happening.

It all began on Victoria Day when Tolmie said she showed up to check on her house.

“Everything had been gone through,” she told Black Press at the house on Tuesday afternoon. “All the closets, all the drawers — everything was open.”

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Anne Tolmie survey’s the damage after the six break-ins. (Mark Page/News Staff)

She had moved out of the house in February after coming down with pneumonia, and now just returns home on day passes from Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Tolmie called Saanich police, who promptly took her back to the hospital.

“They kind of took a cursory look through the middle of the house and grabbed me by the arms and said ‘you’re supposed to be in the hospital’ and took me back,” she said.

She returned to the house each day for the next few days, finding each time it had been broken into again. Eventually she called a police line to try to reach the RCMP because she said Saanich Police didn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

A Victoria police officer and a nurse showed up, and then got the ball rolling toward a more thorough investigation by the Saanich Police Department.

Police found a pry bar and a discarded cigarette butt in the house, all which was taken for evidence.

The condition of the home was already not considered good enough for Tolmie to move back into - a leaky ceiling had caused mold to grow in the rafters — but after each break-in the condition of the house got worse and worse.

It is now completely ransacked, with debris scattered across every bit of floor.

Nearby neighbour David Chambers, who works and lives at Madrona Farms was at Tolmie’s on Monday and Tuesday to help sort through the mess and secure the house. Other neighbours are now helping keep watch.

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Anne Tolmie shows where her neighbours have helped board up broken windows after the break-ins. (Mark Page/News Staff)

Chambers first went over to the house on Saturday after Tolmie approached him and explained she was a bit afraid to go up to the house alone.

“They’ve taken quite a bit of stuff,” Chambers said. “They’d cut the pipes to her oil heat, taken the pipes off the hot water tank.”

When he returned for the cleanup it appeared the thieves had returned yet again.

“We had a whole group of people going to meet at 11 a.m. I was the first one and I saw the doors are wide open,” he said. “So, then we have to call the police back in again.”

The neighbours are now getting more vigilant.

“We just got the lawns mowed, we got windows boarded up, we screwed windows shut that had been pried open, and started to clean up,” Chambers said.

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