Manitoba

Company offers $1,000 reward after thieves steal solar panels from work site

A Manitoba solar energy company has offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who can help solve the mystery of who stole more than 100 solar panels from a work site over the weekend.

'I'll be happy to write that cheque,' says owner after theft of 116 panels worth $27,000

Thieves cut open boxes and stole 116 solar panels from a work site near Deacon's Corner, east of Winnipeg. (Alex Stuart)

A Manitoba solar energy company has offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who can help solve the mystery of who stole more than 100 solar panels from a work site over the weekend.

The theft occurred sometime late Saturday night at OBR Oil and Marine, near Deacon's Corner east of Winnipeg. The thieves cut open boxes and made off with $27,000 worth of solar panels, said Justin Phillips, CEO of Sycamore Energy.

"It's frustrating. You almost feel violated as a company that somebody wants to do this to you," he said in an interview with CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon show.

The panels are three feet by nine feet and weigh between 30 and 40 pounds each, so Phillips doesn't believe the theft could have been accomplished quickly.

"At first we were kind of shocked but then you realize that it is a construction site and so the common person driving by might not realize who's involved in the construction," he said.

Insurance will cover the loss, but the theft will set the project back by a week or two, Phillips said. Sycamore Energy, which operates under the name Solar Manitoba, is one of the largest solar companies in the province. Phillips said a smaller company likely wouldn't have been able to absorb the cost.

"The individuals that thieved from us, they don't know what happens in the business, they don't know how things operate," he said.

Since news of the theft was shared on social media, the word has spread. The company notified Manitoba Hydro and the city of Winnipeg, and they know the serial number of the panels, so they likely cannot be hooked up to the grid without getting caught.

Phillips says there is a good chance the panels will be shipped out of province or hooked up somewhere off the grid. Still, he says he's hopeful someone will come forward.

"I'll be happy to write that cheque if we find out who did it," he said.

With files from Janice Grant and Cameron MacLean

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