Skip to content

VIDEO: Maple Ridge business vandalized

Front windows were smashed – again – but nothing stolen at T’s One Upon A Tea Leaf

Taryn Stephenson Thoews tried not to let her emotions get the better of her as she stood in front of T’s Once Upon A Tea Leaf, along 224 Street downtown Maple Ridge, where windows had been smashed by vandals early Thursday morning.

Thoews, who co-owns the store with her mother, Cindy-Lea Stephenson, said she received a call from the alarm company at around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 21.

When security arrived on scene they discovered the front display window was smashed, in addition to another window by the front door. Security also saw smoke coming from inside the building and were worried the business was on fire.

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were called along with the Ridge Meadows RCMP.

Theirs was the only store hit by the vandals, making Thoews believe this was a targeted attack.

“It does not appear that there was any intent to steal anything. It was meant to scare us, meant to cause a lot of damage,” said the downtown business owner, who has been at the current location for 11 years, and in Maple Ridge for 16.

“And they were successful, both of those things happened,” she said.

In addition, Thoews explained, what appeared to be smoke bombs were thrown into the store, causing widespread damage of all the inventory.

The smoke covered everything in an orange colour. Thoews thinks that about 90 per cent of their products are ruined.

Thursday afternoon she was waiting for the insurance adjuster to arrive. However, Thoews said, she thinks the store is going to be closed for a while now as a restoration company is needed to clean up the mess.

Thoews noted that break-ins can be expected by small business owners when they own a brick and mortar shop.

“That’s just part of the game in 2023,” she said.

RELATED: RCMP investigating break-in at downtown Maple Ridge tea shop

However, in June of 2022, their store was vandalized in a similar manner – the front windows were again broken and someone threw a zap-strapped can of bear spray into the interior of the store.

“For this to happen again in a very similar fashion, that’s the part that, to me, feels scary. It feels targeted, it feels intentional,” she said, noting that her mother is both sad and scared, and was too emotional to talk to The News.

Thoews doesn’t know when they will be able to open again, which is devastating, said Thoews, since they are entering their busy season, when the weather is starting to get colder and people are starting to buy cosy scarves and drink warm cups of tea.

“We work every day to try and be good members of this community. We give back, we support everybody and to have this happen, not once but twice, it’s hard to not take that personally,” she said.

Cpl. Julie Klaussner with the Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed that on Thursday, Sept. 21 at around 3:30 a.m., police responded to a report of vandalism to a business in the 11900 block of 224 Street. When they arrived they discovered that the front window to the building had been smashed.

ALSO: Class of 2020 celebrated at T’s in Maple Ridge

“This is currently an ongoing investigation and there are no further details available at this time,” said Klaussner.

Thoews did add that she doesn’t think downtown Maple Ridge is a bad place.

“Everyday out of the year except for, let’s say two or three, we feel safe and supported by this community. And the last thing that I want is for people to feel unsafe coming to our downtown core. It is just a one-off and it’s targeted and I hope that it doesn’t deter people from supporting ours and other businesses in this downtown core because it is not a scary place to be,” she said.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
Read more