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Caught on camera: Maple Ridge tea shop vandalized with smoke bomb

T’s Once Upon A Tea Leaf, a tea shop in Maple Ridge, has been vandalized for the second time and the owners believe it was targeted.

Having lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products, they fear they might have to close their store for good.

Security footage shows it all -- someone smashing the storefront window, then plumes of orange smoke filling up the building.

The incident happened overnight Thursday.

“It stole the breath from my lungs. I just couldn't, I couldn’t even begin to process what that was, why anyone would do something like that," said co-owner Taryn Stephenson Thoews.

The owners say it's a huge financial blow, as they don't have the money to repair or replace everything and hope their insurance will cover the cost.

"We probably have $100,000 to $200,000 worth of product that is completely unsellable and a lot of work to get this cleaned up," said Thoews.

She and her mother, who also owns the store, told CTV News that this is the second time their business has been vandalized, adding that in June of last year, someone also smashed the windows and threw a can of bear spray inside.

“It just feels too similar, too targeted to not have some sort of connection," said Thoews.

This time, the owners say the vandal threw a marine pyrotechnic which released orange smoke, and the store is now covered in orange film.

"It's on everything," said Thoews.

In a statement, Ridge Meadows RCMP said it "responded to the report of vandalism to a business in the 11900 block of 224th St. The front window to the building had been smashed. This is currently an ongoing investigation and there are no further details available at this time."

Co-owner Cindy-Lea Stephenson struggled to hold back tears when she watched the security footage.

"It’s when I saw the smoke, the orange smoke on the camera inside that broke my heart. This is my livelihood. This is my life," she said.

"I had a customer this morning that walked by and she said ‘I hope you reopen by Christmas,’ and I said, ‘Well if we’re not, I don’t know if we’ll reopen because there’s no point then,’" she continued, adding that most of business’ revenue comes during fall and the weeks leading up to Christmas.

The owners don't believe anything was stolen and think the vandal was just looking to cause damage and provoke fear, but are still left wondering why.

"Downtown Maple Ridge is not a scary place. This is not something that happens everyday," said Thoews.

But they're grateful for the community's support.

One customer even launched a GoFundMe for the business.

"The love we felt on social media was unbelievable. It’s like this community wraps a big hug around you,' said Stephenson.

With amazing support, they're remaining optimistic and hoping for some answers soon. Top Stories

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