The message is loud and clear: some people just do dumb things for no apparent reason.
Muskoka Heritage Place (MHP) will be installing a site-wide surveillance system in light of the most recent act of vandalism that caused $15,000 in damages.
The Huntsville OPP were advised of the incident just before 8 a.m. on Monday morning. It is being reported that sometime between October 15 and 19, unknown culprits entered the property and broke into 13 of the 15 historic buildings. Items from inside the buildings were used to smash glass windows. The culprits also flipped over furniture and severely damaged several items inside the buildings.
Officers from both Scenes of Crimes and the Forensic Identifications Services Unit have been investigating the incident and collecting material and samples from the historic site. Currently, no suspects have been charged in connection to the mischief.
“Vandalism is fairly frequent here, it’s an ongoing thing, but certainly nothing to this extent,” stated MHP manager Ron Gostlin. “It’s kind of ironic because we launched the most impressive beautification year we’ve had. The site needed some bringing back to life, and to end on that kind of note just sucks.”
Calling the incident “unfortunate and frustrating,” Gostlin indicated that staff work diligently to preserve the historic buildings and items contained within them. A saving grace was that many of the artifacts had been transported inside the main building when MHP closed for the season after the Thanksgiving weekend.
“Looking after the buildings that are considered artifacts and are at the mercy of Mother Nature and the creatures that play havoc inside them. I think we’ve got enough to worry about without vandalism. It’s really disappointing.”
A total of 62 window panes were broken when the incident occurred. Several doors and locks will also need to be repaired or replaced.
Currently surveillance is only inside the museum. While MHP strives to make visits to the village as authentic as possible, Gostlin said having a surveillance system installed inside the village is now in the works.
“You play a fine line with that, too,” he said. “We don’t want to take away from our visitors’ experience, but this has to happen. We will do our best to conceal them [surveillance cameras]so they aren’t invasive. As far as taking away from the pioneer experience, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Despite the damage done to the buildings and property, Gostlin said MHP will still host its annual Great Pumpkin Trail event on Halloween night.
It is not being reported if the incident is related to the vandalism that occurred at Jason Armstrong’s Hyundai of Muskoka on King William Street. On Monday morning, police attended the car dealership to investigate a case of mischief that resulted in 13 vehicles being damaged after someone ran across the hoods and stomped on them. The cost of damage is estimated at $10,000. Hyundai of Muskoka is offering a $500 cash reward to for information leading to the arrest of the culprit(s) responsible.
Anyone with information pertaining to these crimes is asked to contact the Huntsville OPP at 705-789-5551 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 (TIPS).