By Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter (Merritt Herald)

RCMP are investigating an act of vandalism and theft and a suspicious vehicle fire which occurred at a Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMX) site near Merritt.

During the early hours of May 19, Merritt RCMP received a report of a suspicious vehicle fire after work crews on site discovered a blue 2018 Peterbilt tractor rope truck had burned. The suspicious blaze decimated the truck, which had been targeted earlier in the weekend by mischief and fuel theft.

“The fire scene has been secured by Merritt RCMP for a full examination completed by forensic specialists and fire investigators with the RCMP Southeast District General Investigation Section,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, Media Relations Officer.

“RCMP has since learned that there were individuals camping over the weekend in the immediate area of the impacted vehicle. GIS investigators are seeking to identify those campers, as they may hold key information.”

Police are also asking anyone who was in the vicinity and all motorists who may have travelled through the area of Hwy 5A and Tillery Rd. on the evening of May 18 or early hours of May 19, to review their dashcam footage and report any information they may have to police.

“At this stage of the investigation it is unknown whether the acts were targeted in nature or simply crimes of opportunity,” said Cpl. O’Donaghey.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merritt RCMP detachment at 250-378-4262 or the Southeast District GIS team at 250-869-2215. For those who wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477