Slashed tires, smashed windshields: Clarenville cab company fed up with repeated vandalism
'It's a headache to us and it's heartbreaking'
After more than a year of enduring smashed windshields and slashed tires, the owner of a cab company in Clarenville is asking for police and the public to come together to end the attacks.
Masters Taxi set up in the town in August 2019, expanding from its original call area around Musgravetown when manager Jamie Masters noticed an uptick in calls from Clarenville.
While business has been steady since the move, it's come at a cost.
A few weeks after opening, Masters said, "we had our first windshield beat out," while the cab was parked in a driver's driveway.
"No more than a week or two after that, we had the back windshield smashed out of the same machine. Few days after repairing that and getting it back on the road, I lost the front windshield out of the same machine again."
Two drivers have dealt with slashed tires, and just last week a man in the early morning hours began smashing windshields in the company's parking lot — at a time when Masters and another worker happened to be inside the office and ran out to stop it.
"I guess we frightened him when we come through the door so we didn't get a chance to catch him," said Masters, adding the man ran away through a wooded area and hasn't been seen since.
"It's a headache to us and it's heartbreaking," he said of the continued damage.
'I'm not backing down'
In 2018, two cab companies in Clarenville feuded over business, drawing complaints to police in the process. Masters wasn't involved in that spat, but said it appears someone is hostile over a new taxi service in the town.
"Since we started here a little over a year ago, someone's just trying to knock me out, I guess," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
"The words I got for them is, I'm not backing down. And if they think they're going to knock us out or scare our drivers away, that's not going to happen."
Despite the continued problems, one bright spot has been business: the public has been "tremendous to us," said Masters, with passersby keeping an eye out for vandals and neighbouring businesses checking their surveillance tapes for clues.
The police? Not so much, said Masters.
"I'm not happy with the RCMP, to tell you the truth," he said.
Masters said police failed to stop by after a tire slashing, never returned to another one to take statements, and since the latest windshield smash, he said, "I haven't heard not one sound from Clarenville RCMP since. I can't get over it, b'y."
In such a small town, "somebody must know something," he said.
The RCMP did not respond to a request from CBC for comment.
With files from The St. John's Morning Show