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Eco-terrorists? Disgruntled employee? Criminologist's thoughts about latest attack on Sea to Sky Gondola

Last Updated Sep 18, 2020 at 11:42 pm PST

Summary

Rob Gordon says it could be an act of eco-terrorism, although nobody has claimed responsibility

He says Monday's crime is eerily similar to an attack on BC Hydro equipment last year

SQUAMISH (NEWS 1130) – Almost a week after someone cut the cables once again at the Sea to Sky Gondola, people are still shaking their heads at the act of vandalism.

On both occasions, the vandal – or vandals – struck in the dead of night during high tourist season – and seemingly left no trace. The latest attack occurred early Monday morning, with the first taking place on Aug. 10, 2019.

Rob Gordon is an SFU criminologist and says it’s difficult to form a criminal profile from just two incidents.

He believes the perpetrator is either a disgruntled employee or a member of an eco-terrorist group.

However, he does concede the crime in Squamish doesn’t quite fit the mold of an eco-terrorist attack.

“Usually what happens with environmental terrorism is that there is some kind of announcement usually after the event. So they usually take credit and the reasons are spelled out,” he says, pointing out no such message has been delivered, at least not publicly.

“There doesn’t appear to be any attempt to gain any political points by this.”

But he insists it is someone who has the expertise to pull it off – perhaps twice. Not everybody has the ability to shimmy up a very tall gondola tower in the dark and cut cables without injuring themselves, all while wearing clothing that would conceal their identities from surveillance cameras.

Moreover, they likely used vehicles. “Clearly, they would not have walked or hiked in. The equipment that was packed in probably is the type that needed to be carried in a vehicle of some kind.”

He points out an eerily similar act of vandalism was undertaken last year in North Vancouver, when someone attacked BC Hydro transformers without getting injured, and without appearing to be motivated by theft.

“You would have to have specialized knowledge of that equipment if you wanted to pull off that type of vandalism and not kill yourself doing it. The same kind of dynamic is probably operating in Squamish.”

Does Gordon believe the Sea to Sky caper is a case of cat and mouse?

“No, the gap between incidents is way too long. That sort of cat and mouse stuff only works when you’re engaging with a particular group of people challenging the RCMP or the owners of the property.”

He says the focus right now is on any physical and forensic evidence that can tie the two acts of vandalism to one another.