By Dan Rankin
An engaged couple living in an apartment on Queen Street contacted the Independent this week to tell their side of a story that went viral last weekend in the form of a widely-shared photo showing a badly-damaged pickup truck bearing a handwritten sign with lyrics from the Carrie Underwood revenge tune “Before He Cheats.”
Based on their comments, many of those who saw the photo on Facebook jumped to the conclusion that the damage to the grey Dodge pickup truck – including four slashed tires and a windshield smashed in several places – had been done by a spurned ex-lover to get back at a cheating boyfriend. However, the couple (who asked to remain anonymous) say the damage to the female Queen Street resident’s pickup truck was actually done Friday morning by a male, hammer-wielding, recently-evicted roommate.
A sign was left on the windshield which read “I might’ve saved a little trouble for the next girl” in artful script. They think it may have just been an attempt at a smokescreen to throw them and the authorities off the scent of the real culprit. But, more likely, the sign was simply added to the scene later by an artistic and mischievous passerby, as the vehicle was left in place for quite a few hours before the truck was eventually towed away.
“Maybe if he didn’t do it in the middle of the day with witnesses, he may have gotten away with it,” the man said Tuesday.
The way the man tells it, last month their roommate for the past five months had been given three week’s notice to pack up his things and leave the apartment. “He didn’t move out on Sept. 1, so I changed the locks and told him his stuff was outside,” the man said. “I don’t think he liked that too much, but what else can you do?”
Around 2:45 am on Friday morning, when the man was working a night shift, the roommate returned to the apartment. “We had his stuff out in the hallway,” the man said. “He knew I wasn’t home so he came in the middle of the night to intimidate her, to terrorize her. He was trying to get in. She didn’t want to go out, obviously, when he was there. It kept on going until I got home around 8:00 am.”
When the man returned home from work, the room mate said he still had some belongings in his room upstairs. “I told him I would set them outside and he could come and pick them up,” the man said. “Around 9:00 am he came and got them, and then right after that, he was walking outside with a large hammer. The neighbours across the road and several other people saw him, and Crime Stoppers was called.”
They said that’s when the woman’s pickup truck, which was parked on Wellington Street between the BMO branch and the post office, was vandalized.
“I thought it was him trying to put the blame on some girl doing it,” she said, regarding the sign that was left behind. “I thought it was quite clever at first. But I didn’t have liability on that truck. That came out-of-pocket.”
They estimate that there was about $2,000 in damage done to the truck, however it was not the only thing vandalized. Several doors in the apartment’s hall and entryway, as well as a security camera, were smashed, as was a motorbike belonging to the man in a nearby garage known to the roommate, the man said. “With my motorbike and everything it was probably $7,000-$8,000 damage,” he claimed. “I can’t say for sure he did the bike, but he smashed the walls and the truck.”
Perth County OPP Community Services and Media Relations Officer Kees Wijnands told the Independent Tuesday that the investigation into the case was ongoing. “Investigators are dealing with the victims and we’ve had lots of calls on it,” he said.
It was clear that this incident was not related to other recent acts of vandalism in the town, he said. “This was a little bit different – not a random act,” Const. Wijnands said. “This doesn’t match what was done with the other ones.”
Meanwhile, the former roommate has continued to wreak havoc on the couple. “He came and got the rest of his stuff today and squished a banana on the door,” she said. “I mean, come on. Oh my gosh. It’s better than the hammer.”