Downtown business target of theft
SPRUCE PINE – After again being the target of theft in downtown Spruce Pine, the owners and employees of the business are ramping up efforts to increase safety.
At some point overnight Monday, Jan. 29, someone stole all four wheels and tires off a 2015 full-size Chevrolet Colorado truck belonging to Peoples Furniture. The truck was in the public parking lot behind the Mitchell News-Journal. The center caps were also stolen off a Peoples-owned 2010 GMC Sierra.
A post on the Peoples Furniture Facebook page the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 30, said a $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the crime.
“Things like this are why we have been advocating for months for police patrol and surveillance cameras downtown,” the post said. “This happens at other downtown businesses as well.”
Peoples Furniture employee Laura Waldroup Verla wrote an email to members of Spruce Pine Town Council, mayor Darla Harding and town manager Richard Canipe expressing her concerns about safety, vandalism and theft in the downtown area.
Verla and her parents, People Furniture owners Ken and Trish Waldroup, attended the Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, meeting of Spruce Pine Town Council requesting cameras, better lighting and increased police patrol downtown after a trail camera captured video of a Newland woman stealing flowers and other items from Peoples’ fall display.
“I understand you have been working on cameras, but I’m having a hard time understanding how that can take four months,” Verla wrote in the email sent this past Thursday. “I don’t see any additional lighting added, either. Not anywhere in town. It’s not uncommon to step over drug needles getting out of your car in that parking lot. These are real issues that need to be a priority.”
Trish Waldroup said the theft of the wheels and tires is proof of an ongoing problem of downtown theft and vandalism.
“The ball is in the town’s court, but nobody is doing anything,” she said. “This is the best thing that could’ve happened to downtown Spruce Pine because if this doesn’t wake them up, nothing will. We are tired of being told just to be calm. Being calm cost Peoples $6,000 in 2017 because of a bad check and then there’s all this. It’s really sad, but it is what it is. We’ve tried and tried.”
Spruce Pine Police Chief Billy Summerlin said officers in his department are working tirelessly on the case.
“We are out every night,” he said. “We have been in contact with salvage and junkyards from Madison, to Boone to Rutherfordton and are on the lookout for anyone with a lift or even an impact wrench.”
Members of town council instructed Canipe at the Jan. 8 meeting to get price quotes for cameras. Canipe received three estimates – two for one camera on Oak Avenue and one on Locust Street and another quote for two cameras on each street – ranging from $19,000 to $28,000.
“It has to be voted on by the council because it is not a budgeted item,” Canipe said. “I will present the proposals to town council at the Monday, Feb. 12, regular meeting. After that, it will be up to council.”
Timeline for installation after and if the purchase is approved was not provided in the proposal, Canipe said.
The average retail price of 16-inch Chevrolet Colorado wheels, four standard 265/70R16 tires and four 2015 GMC Sierra center caps is around $1,300.
Spruce Pine Council member and mayor pro tem Larry McKinney said the recent theft is an “unfortunate situation.”
“Something needs to be done,” McKinney said. “This is not the downtown Spruce Pine people are used to.”
Cameras were installed in 2016 at Central Park on Locust Street after complaints about drug use in the public restrooms and at Riverside Park in the wake of arson at the park’s playground.