British Columbia

Pizzeria owner wants serial thieves to earn their crust, offers them a job

The owner of a Vernon pizzeria believe the thieves who smashed through his shop windows to steal cash need help more than anything else. So Nicolas Kynigos is offering them a job.

Extra topping of forgiveness after Vernon eatery targeted 3 times in 10 days

Nicolas and Marie's Pizza, Pasta and Doanir has been targeted by thieves three times in the past week and a half. (Marie-helene Kynigos)

The owner of a Vernon, B.C., pizzeria believes the thieves who smashed through his shop windows three times in 10 days need help more than anything else.

So Nicolas Kynigos is offering them a job.

"Try to break them out of this vicious cycle," Kynigos explained. "If you earn it and can be a responsible person, I'll forgive you. I'll even give you a job."

Kynigos owns Nicolas and Marie's Pizza, Pasta and Donair shop in downtown Vernon with his wife, Marie-helene.

Thieves have thrown rocks through their glass door and front shop windows on three separate occasions over the past week and a half.

Twice they stole the cash register and once they grabbed some loose change.

Thieves used rocks to smash the front door window of the store. The third time, they smashed a large pane on the storefront. (Marie-helene Kynigos)

"Obviously, it's a drug problem," Kynigos said. "These people are desperate, whether it's for drugs or food or who knows what?"

The Kynigoses replaced the glass in their door twice, but the third time the culprits smashed a large pane glass window.

Now their shop has a large piece of plywood filling the hole.

Between the damage and the stolen cash registers, the couple is out more than $4,000.

Help from community

Kynigos said initially the repeated break-ins caused him and his wife a lot of stress, as they wondered how they would pay for the damage.

"My wife said, 'Let's leave town. This is the third time, let's get out of here,'" he said.

"Once, twice, but three times. It was way too much. And the the cleanup job — I was up all night cleaning up all those little pieces of glass."

Marie-helene and Nicolas Kynigos are offering a job to the thieves who have broken into their store three times over the past week and a half. (Marie-helene Kynigos)

But help from neighbouring businesses and his loyal customers then arrived.

Their landlord offered the couple a deal on their rent and gave them security cameras, another small business owner gave him $200 toward the repairs, and customers started chipping in $5 or $10 dollars to help the business out.

"They are shocked because they are part of the community," he said.

"They see three times — this guy is a little guy here. Why should this guy be attacked? So it's an attack on them as well."

But Kynigos said he also wants to be part of the solution in his community.

That's why he's willing to forgive the people who have caused his business so much trouble and offer them a chance to turn their lives around with a job at his shop — after they have worked off some of the damage caused.

"I stopped blaming them. You know they are poor and they are drug addicts," Kynigos said.

"Try to help them. Try to find reasonable solutions and come up with something."

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan