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Massive theft of power tools from Port Coquitlam hardware store leaves owner anxious, upset

The shop owner, an immigrant mother who learned the hardware business working at Walmart for eight years, will have to replace the equipment and is anticipating an insurance premium hike.

The owner of a popular Port Coquitlam hardware store is still trying to assess the damage of a break-in that resulted in the theft of thousands of dollars of power tools.

Amrit Shoker said she is still upset by the theft that occurred in the middle of the night on Thursday (April 21) at the shop — located at 3217 Coast Meridian Rd.

Shoker, who is originally from India and a mother of two children, opened the Ace Hardware location four years ago. 

Trained as an engineer, Shoker said she learned the hardware business working at Walmart in the hardware department for eight years before deciding to open her own business.

Now, she has to try to replace the equipment and is anticipating a big increase to her insurance premium.

"I feel bad, I don't know what happened," said Shoker, who told the Tri-City News she has CCTV cameras posted throughout the shop and has bars on the windows.

The theft occurred shortly after she recently hung banners indicating she had expensive Milwaukee tools in the store. Someone planned the theft, she suspects, and found some way to get in through the wall.

At a cost of $400 to $500 apiece, the stolen power tools will be quickly re-sold online.

In Port Moody, a thief was caught twice trying to steal power tools, and two years ago, in Coquitlam, someone stole $85,000 in surveyor's equipment from a local tradesman.

Thieves try to sell the stolen hardware and power tools on line, on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and other apps, prompting warnings from police because organized crime groups are trafficking in stolen property.

Coquitlam RCMP has confirmed it's investigating the theft and reviewing CCTV footage, as well as fingerprints taken at the scene.

On social media, a number of posters have commented they plan to shop at Ace Hardware to help Shoker recover from the theft, adding the store is a valuable business on the city's north side.

With spring gardening season on the way, Shoker hopes people will stop by Ace Hardware and potentially stock up on soil, seeds and gardening implements.

She adds she's grateful for the community support in recent days, but admits she started becoming "suspicious" of everyone who came into the store right after the theft.

"They came right to our tills, and took all expensive stuff, locks, Milwaukee tools. It’s really hard for me, what happened and really scary."

Shoker said she has since hardened the break-in area with tempered glass, backed up with hundreds of pounds of bags of gardening soil, and is considering additional fencing.

It wasn't the only break-in in Port Coquitlam in recent days.

On April 8, someone drove a truck into the Save-On Foods Store on Ottawa Street in an attempt to steal the ATM.

Coquitlam RCMP are investigating.