Court documents reveal RCMP probe into Kettle Valley railway worker

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Costumed performers regularly stage mock robberies on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland, but now police are investigating a real-life theft from the operation with a more modern twist – online shopping.

The train society’s former business manager is accused in court documents of stealing upwards of $50,000 over a one-year period that ended in November 2022.

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Approximately $13,000 of that was allegedly spent on Amazon purchases that were made using the society’s credit card but shipped to the woman’s home in West Kelowna. The ill-gotten goods ranged from a mattress and ski equipment to jewelry and underwear.

The rest of the money was allegedly taken through e-transfers for unapproved overtime pay and an unauthorized wage hike, plus cash from operations that never found its way to the bank.

Details of the investigation are contained in an application for a search warrant filed by Summerland RCMP Const. Mattison Sinnett.

(The Herald is not identifying the suspect because the newspaper was unable to confirm if she’s been charged with a criminal offence yet.)

According to the court documents, the woman was hired by the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in October 2021 with a salary of $60,000 per year.

Her alleged theft went undetected until December 2022, when someone went to police shortly after the woman delivered long-outstanding banking information to the society and then fled.

The woman “failed to show up for her next shift at the company on Dec. 15, 2022, after she had turned in the deposit slip books to her employer,” wrote Const. Sinnett. She “has not returned to work or been heard of since.”

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Police allegedly linked the woman to the e-transfer thefts via personal bank documents that were obtained through a separate warrant.

The search of the woman’s home in West Kelowna turned up none of the hundreds of items she’s alleged to have ordered from Amazon, according to a report from the March 9, 2023, raid that’s attached to the court documents.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. James Grandy declined this week to comment on the case because the investigation is ongoing.

Grandy wouldn’t even confirm if the woman has been charged, and her name doesn’t appear in the provincial court database.

Sinnett’s warrant application states the woman is being investigated for fraud, theft and possession of property obtained by crime.

The railway operating society declined comment out of respect for the ongoing police investigation.

Using a restored 1912 locomotive, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway runs seasonally on an abandoned line in rural Summerland.

Passengers go for a 90-minute ride that takes them out and back across a wooden trestle high above the Trout Creek Canyon.

Select trips get a visit from the Garnet Valley Gang, a separate group of locals who stage Old West-style train robberies to the delight of passengers.

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