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Innisfail businesses report vandalism; woman arrested

At least one owner holds no grudge, hopes suspect gets help

INNISFAIL — The owner of a building that was among several to recently fall victim to vandalism holds no grudge and even hopes the suspect who now faces a string of charges receives help.

Jon Van der Velden, who owns a structure at 4919, 53rd Street that houses multiple occupants in the front three bays, said one of his tenants informed him that there were “a bunch of scratches all over the windows.”

The suspect was recorded and caught in the act on security camera video footage dated the night of Sept. 28, Van der Velden said during a phone interview, adding the damage was discovered the following morning.  

“She spent about five minutes writing all over the windows, with a rock or something, I think,” he said.

Asked how badly the glass had been defaced, he answered, “It definitely needs to be replaced. So, basically we have a window and a door that needs to be replaced.”

That cost could run up a hefty tab, because the work requires a custom window with metal grates inside as well as a stone outwork that needs to be removed before installing the new pane, he said, adding he was in the process of obtaining a quote.

“It’s a pretty significant job to replace it unfortunately.”

Filing an insurance claim will depend largely on the cost to replace the windows, he said.

Although there were barely discernable letters etched into the glass, he couldn’t guess as to what — if any — message there was.

“It’s kind of gibberish. I honestly feel bad for the lady,” he said.

“Just watching her mannerisms on the video, she’s clearly got some serious struggles. It’s too bad.”

After reviewing the video, he said a report was filed with the local police.

“I think there was multiple nights where she was doing this.”

Although Van der Velden also owns another building near 7/11 that has infrequently been graffitied over the years, he expressed the opinion that such occurrences are not a particularly major problem in Innisfail. 

“It’s sort of an isolated incident, and I just hope she gets the help that she clearly needs,” he said, adding he doesn’t hold a grudge and is not upset.

“It hasn’t really been too bad,” he said with regards to dealing with vandalism.

“Overall, this town’s been pretty good.”

Over at Linda’s Barber Shop, owner Linda Covey said her business’s windows were also badly scratched up.

“They used a sharp implement and scratched squirrely things all over the outside — it’s scratched right into the glass. So, you can’t clean it,” said Covey.

“The one side just looks like random scrawl. The other side looks like letters, but it makes no sense,” she said, adding the letters appears to spell “L-A-S-O-N-E.”

Covey, who also reported the incident to police after discovering the damage on the morning of Friday, Sept. 25, figures at least half a dozen businesses were hit, along with some cars in the parking lot at Boots and Barrels.  

“She should pay for it — she needs to pay for the damage she’s done,” said Covey.

The suspect -- a local woman named as Christina Dow in a press release by the Innisfail RCMP -- is facing a string of charges stemming from a police investigation into multiple reports of vandalism to businesses.

The detachment stated that a number of mischief complaints from Sept. 29-30 were called in by various businesses. The ensuing investigation subsequently led to the arrest of the 40-year-old.

She was charged with four counts of mischief more than $5,000; assault with a weapon; two counts of failure to comply with a court order; and disobeying a court order.

She was remanded into custody, and police said the investigation remains ongoing with more information forthcoming.

Staff Sergeant Chris Matachuck of the Innisfail RCMP could not say how far back the suspect’s track record goes nor what weapon was used in the alleged assault. But he was able to confirm the accused is known to the detachment’s officers.

“After this reported assault is when they caught up with her and arrested her, and then they — through investigation — linked her back to the mischief complaints in the downtown area,” Matachuk told The Albertan during a phone interview.

He also confirmed that several vehicles were damaged during the scratching spree.

“That’s correct, and that’s kind of what we’re looking for any (additional) information.”

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact either the Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3343 or their local detachment. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), go online at, or use the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.