The superintendent of the Belmont golf club just started her morning shift when she noticed something looked off.

Golf carts were strewn across the property, said operations manager Emily Bader, recounting what her colleague saw around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

“One was driven into a bush. One was on the first tee,” she said.

“We originally thought there were maybe some drunk people causing a ruckus on the course and taking a joyride.”

Staff quickly discovered 13 carts were stolen and reported it to Ontario Provincial Police.

“It was quite shocking,” Bader said.

Elgin OPP said officers were called to Central Elgin golf club around 5 a.m. Tuesday after thieves entered the golf course overnight and stole carts worth about $100,000.

Bader believes the 13 golf carts – all  EZgo brand and gas-powered – were targeted because they were new and of higher value. The average weight of an EZgo golf cart is roughly 742 lbs (356 kg).

Stealing that many vehicles is no small endeavour, Bader said.

“You’d have to have a massive trailer to be able to load those on or a transport to be able to load those into.”

Bader said her family’s golf club doesn’t have video surveillance but plans to increase security measures. The $100,000 theft is a massive blow to the business, she said.

“Our revenue will definitely be impacted. Not everybody can or wants to walk while they’re golfing,” Bader said.

“If we don’t have all the carts, then we can’t rent those carts out. We’re not just losing the sale of the actual cart, but losing people coming to golf in general.”

Thieves have targeted golf courses in Southwestern Ontario before. Earlier this month, seven golf carts were reported stolen from Fescue’s Edge golf club on Hagan Road in Brant County. Brant OPP said suspects drove away with the vehicles around 11 p.m. on July 11.

A week later, Norfolk OPP said they were investigating the theft of two golf carts at the Delhi golf and country club. Police said the carts were stolen sometime overnight on July 19.

No charges have been announced in either case.

The Belmont golf club is located between St. Thomas and London. George and Jan Loughlean bought the former 20-hectare field in 1960 and opened a nine-hole course the following year. It was expanded to 18 holes in 1988.

Bader’s parents bought the course last summer, keeping the family-owned tradition alive.

“It’s a family-run business. This is what we do. This is important to us. We want the golf course to be a happy, safe place for people to have fun,” she said.

Tuesday’s theft “is just sad,” Bader said. “It puts a damper on things.”

Elgin OPP asks anyone with information or video surveillance to contact them at 1-888-310-1122. Anonymous tips can be sent to Elgin-St. Thomas Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 01, 2023 at 14:50

This item reprinted with permission from   London Free Press   London, Ontario
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