A U.K. couple’s first visit to Whistler was soured after an attempted break-in to their Upper Village Airbnb unit over the weekend left them shaken.
Ian Gwinnell and his wife were relaxing in their vacation rental in the Glacier Lodge on Sunday evening, March 13, when they heard a violent sound at about 6 p.m.
The pair had taken their last day in Whistler off from skiing and had just returned to the apartment from exploring the village, with take-out food in tow.
“I took my shoes off, sat down on the couch and we heard a horrendous thud at the door,” Gwinnell said over the phone from Vancouver. “And then in quick succession there was a second one, from which the inner frame started to come apart on the door.”
At that point, the couple realized the door was being kicked in.
“We jumped up and started shouting at the top of our voices to ‘get out,’” recalled Gwinnell. A third kick was forceful enough to burst the door open, while smashing the door’s lock housing and causing further “considerable damage” to the doorframe, Gwinnell said. “Pieces of the door and lock casing flew across the room. But I think us creating a bit of noise from the inside scared them, because they turned around and they ran.”
Due to the building’s short corridors, the suspect disappeared around a corner before Gwinnell or his wife were able to catch a glimpse of the individual. Footprints, however, were visible where the suspect had kicked in the door.
Whistler RCMP confirmed in a release that police responded to a report of an attempted break-and-enter in the 4500 block of Chateau Blvd. on the same date, and the same time.
“Occupants of the residence were startled when an unknown individual kicked open the door to the residence,” but “the suspect fled from the scene and did not enter the dwelling,” said Cpl. Nathan Miller in the release.
Police said they do not have a description of the suspect at this time and are asking for the public’s assistance with their investigation into the matter. Whistler RCMP is asking anyone with information to call the detachment’s non-emergency line at 604-932-3044 or BC Crime Stoppers.
Gwinnell said he was impressed with both Glacier Lodge staff and police’s speedy response to their call for help, and with the Airbnb host’s offer to provide the couple with different accommodation that night, but is now left searching for answers about how common incidents like this are within the resort.
He said the couple had limited interactions with others during their four-day stay in Whistler, aside from servers at local restaurants.
“Really, there's been nothing [we did] to prompt an attack or no one that we could have come into contact with that would have had any prejudices against us,” he said, adding, “If there was somebody targeting the area, and there were other reported incidents, then that would just make me feel like I was unlucky on that day.
“But if I felt as if it was just us … then I've got to review my own safety standards and the way in which I address people and what information I divulge to them in future—I can only use this as a learning curve.”
In a follow-up email, police said they had no information to indicate this was a targeted event, and added that no similar incidents were reported in the area on that day. And while it is unusual for a door to be kicked in in instances like these, Cpl. Miller said “we often see people walking into the wrong rental units. Often we will respond to someone trying to gain entry through a patio door, etc. [not] knowing that they are at the wrong residence.” Miller noted this often happens late at night “when someone had had one too many drinks and can’t quite remember where they are staying.”
-With files from Brandon Barrett