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Thieves rip off solar panels from the roof at Nanaimo Foodshare

Thieves steal $4,000 in solar panels that supply power to non-profit food share organization
Paul Manly, Nanaimo Foodshare Network employability skills coordinator, is expressing outrage over the theft of four solar panels, worth $4,000, stolen from the front roof of the non-profit organization’s building. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo Foodshare is drawing more power from the grid due to a brazen theft of the organization’s solar panels.

Half of the solar panels, mounted on the roof of the food share network’s building at 271 Pine St., were stolen sometime Friday after a system that monitors their power output recorded the devices went offline at about 9 p.m., but there was a delay in reporting that information because the monitoring system did not send out a notification e-mail until about three days later.

According to Nanaimo RCMP, the theft was reported to police Aug. 23.

Four of the system’s eight solar panels, valued at about $1,000 each, were taken from the roof at the front of the building in full view of the busy street.

“There’s a street light right in front of the building, so maybe somebody did see something, which is why I put the post on Facebook, because this would be unusual activity,” said Paul Manly, Nanaimo Foodshare employability skills coordinator.

“They would need a truck, those things weigh about 50 pounds apiece. There’s four of them, they’re bolted down, so it would take two people, a ladder, tools and equipment to take them.”

The solar panel electrical generation system produces about 25 per cent of Nanaimo Foodshare’s electrical power and was installed in March with volunteer labour and financial help from local companies and organizations to save the organization money and to demonstrate economic and environmental sustainability of solar power systems.

Manly said it is not just a theft from the food share network, but from the community it serves.

“We’ve done 8,000 nutritional lunches for kids in the parks this summer, the most vulnerable kids in our community who don’t have access to school meals during summertime. We feed those kids every day and we work with the most vulnerable people in this community … for us this is about sustainability, not just environmental sustainability, but the economic sustainability of this organization … it’s a real kick in the teeth, quite honestly … I’m really quite steamed about this,” he said.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said police so far have no suspects and no witnesses.

“It’s quite shocking to think that nobody heard or saw something because to remove those panels would require a considerable amount of work and energy … so we are relying on the public to further this investigation,” O’Brien said.

Anyone with information about this theft is asked to contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text 274637, keyword Nanaimo or submit a tip online at

“It’s an absolutely brazen and bold theft from a non-profit organization,” Manly said.

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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