UPDATE: The stolen tent was found outside Friday afternoon (May 14) at the front of a property not far from the restaurant. Police are continuing to investigate.
An Abbotsford restaurant owner is crushed after an event tent being used for outside dining was stolen and is expected to cost more than $5,000 to replace.
Cara Truong, who with her husband Troy has owned Mandarin Garden at 31549 South Fraser Way since 2006, said the wedding-style tent was one of two that they have been renting since inside dining was prohibited by the province in April.
Video surveillance indicates the tent was stolen starting at about 3 a.m. Friday (May 14) by two men and a woman. The tent was rolled across the parking lot by one man and tossed over a fence onto a walkway, Truong said.
The man then came back and disassembled the poles, smashing the restaurant’s patio lights in the process.
Truong said a man and a woman then showed up on camera, together carrying away one of the poles.
She said the events company from whom they were renting the tents now requires them to replace the stolen one.
The cost of the tent is around $4,500 to $5,000, and each of the two walls that was also stolen is around $450, Truong said.
She said if they choose to use their insurance to replace the stolen items, they would pay a $1,000 deductible, and their insurance rates would go up in the future.
She said the theft is so upsetting because it’s coming at a time when their restaurant – like most in the industry – has been hit hard by COVID-19 protocols and is hanging on to survive.
“This whole year since the pandemic, we haven’t made anything. In our business, we’ve been constantly losing money. We are trying to keep the company afloat by using our own resources,” Truong said.
She said before the pandemic, Mandarin Garden could accommodate a total of 188 customers and staff. When inside dining was permitted but tables had to be spaced apart, they were at less than half that.
Now, with only patio dining allowed, Truong said they can accommodate 32 customers at a time.
She said the theft of the tent compounds other issues that have been going on during the pandemic, including recent scams by people to get food without paying for it.
In one instance, a woman who ordered delivery over the phone indicated she would pay by either debit or credit card. But when her food was delivered, her debit card didn’t work and she said she couldn’t find her credit card.
The delivery person felt bad because the woman’s kids were screaming in the background, saying they were hungry, so the food was left. The woman promised she would find her credit card and pay the $80 bill the next day, but she never did.
“In the past, we had not been scammed like this with delivery orders … In the past, if somebody couldn’t pay, and they promised to come back the next day to pay, they always did,” Truong said.
She believes that whoever stole the tent likely did so for their personal use – perhaps for a wedding – but hopes that they return it. Truong said the people on the video did not appear to be homeless.
The matter has been reported to the Abbotsford Police Department.