Winnipeg daycare loaned new sets of wheels after vans damaged during gas theft


A Winnipeg daycare that had hundreds of dollars worth of gasoline stolen from its vans is thankful to a local car dealership for lending it some new wheels.

Carol Jones, the executive director at Little People’s Place Inc. daycare center, arrived at work on Monday to the smell of gas. She and her staff soon discovered that three of the daycare vans had their fuel tanks drilled into, with thieves making off with about $700 worth of fuel.

Carol Jones, the executive director at Little People’s Place daycare centre, says someone syphoned gas from three of the daycare vans by drilling holes in the gas tanks. (Source: Mason DePatie/ CTV News Winnipeg)

The theft came amid rising prices of gas in Winnipeg and across the country. As of Thursday, gas was as high as 173.9 cents per liter at many stations across the city.

Jones said the vans are now in the shop being repaired, and could be out of commission for weeks.

For a few days, it caused massive problems for the center and its families, as the vehicles are used to transport more than 80 kids to eight different schools in the community.

“It was a nightmare for parents,” Jones told CTV News. “We had halted transportation for probably three-quarters of our children. There was a small group that we were still able to walk because their schools are still a distance, but not too far, as long as Winnipeg didn’t get to minus 50, the way it has been. So that was our plan,” Jones said.

Good news came for the Windsor Park-area daycare on Wednesday. Vickar Community Chevrolet called with an offer to help.

Assistant Shop Foreman Graham Bullis said staff heard about the theft and brainstormed how they could help the daycare.

Bullis, who deals with Manitoba Public Insurance mechanical claims at Vickar, initially offered to help the daycare with its claim and repairs. As the vans were already being serviced, they came up with another idea.

“We figured, if we can’t help them fix them, maybe we can help them get some wheels on the road, so that’s what we did,” Bullis said.

The dealership loaned out two shuttle vans to help transport kids while theirs are being repaired. While they aren’t quite as big as the ones in the shop, Jones said they are incredibly grateful.

“That was a tremendous blessing and a great surprise. So of course, we absolutely took them up on and then made arrangements to go down and pick them up.,” she said.

Jones added she’s been blown away by the generosity not only of Vickar, but of many Winnipeggers who heard about the theft on CTV News Winnipeg. She said they received a gas gift card and numerous monetary donations from businesses and the public.

“A lot of people who don’t know what to do but just want to say, ‘you know, we’re just we’re here to support you’, which is really, really nice,” she said.

– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Mason DePatie

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