Bomb threat closes Ucluelet Co-Op, hobbles local commute

 

 

 

A bomb threat closed the Ucluelet Co-Op store and hobbled downtown traffic Wednesday afternoon.

RCMP from Ucluelet and Tofino and the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade quickly blocked off the main drag of Peninsula Road following the call that came in at 11:50 a.m.

 â€œWe received a call at 10 to 12 this morning from a gentleman who was inquiring about the VISA prepaid cards,” said site manager Jo-Anne Chagnon.

The call aroused suspicion because of a recent scam using stolen credit cards to purchase prepaid cards, she said.

“When he got on the phone with the manager, he said he had a bomb and unless we filled out some prepaid cards for him, (he was going to blow it up),” Chagnon said.

The called was very familiar with prepaid cards, she said. 

“He knows them real well, he knows the limits … it’s probably a scam he’s pulled before,” she said of the prepaid card scam.

Staff and customers responded quickly and efficiently, she said.

“It was calm – we had the store evacuated in less than a minute. It was just – go,” Chagnon said.

The store has never been closed before by a threat.

“We assumed this was a hoax, but you can’t assume… with the terrorism (that’s happened recently). The one time you don’t (take it seriously), tragedy will happen … We can’t guess that it’s going to be nothing,” she said.

An RCMP sniffer dog arrived in under three hours from Nanaimo with his handler.

“It took him about an hour to go through the store, he didn’t find anything,” she said, praising the responding agencies for their handling of the situation.

The shutdown closed off Larch as well as Peninsula from Bay to Matterson, and RCMP and UVFB members turned back car, bike and pedestrian traffic for the duration, opening the roads before 4:30 p.m.