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An autobody shop in New Hampshire became a local centre for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, despite being nearly 1,800 miles away from Houston, Texas.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario -- September 7, 2017 -- In this week's edition of Friday Fun, we look at how the auto theft boom in Calgary is finally under control, an opportunity to travel in style on an old Black Sabbath tour bus, how an autobody shop became a centre for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and much, much more!

- The Miami International Auto Show was supposed to open this weekend, but Hurricane Irma has put the event on hold. Richard Baker, President of the South Florida Dealers Association was quoted by the Miami Herald as saying, “Our priorities are to provide any assistance that helps our community better prepare for this hurricane. We hope to be able to open the Auto Show sometime next week depending on the movement of the storm.” The show in Miami was first held in 1971 and today involves more than 190 dealerships in Miami-Dade, Broward Palm Beach and Monroe counties.

- An autobody shop in Chicopee, Massachusetts—1,800 miles from Houston—is getting credit for, “... helping refugees from Hurricane Harvey.” According to a report by local TV station 22 WWLP, “R T’s Auto Shop, a Hampshire county autobody shop, became the centre of the relief effort to help people affected,” by the storm this past week when they started collecting donations and then ended up becoming the centre of a local relief effort. Co-owner Trevor Bleau told a local television news reporter, “We honestly didn’t think it was going to be this big, but that’s a great thing. When this sort of tragedy happens in Texas, this sort of thing needs to happen, so why not here." On Saturday a convoy of trucks, bound for Texas, will pick up the donated goods and head south.

- It was not long ago that the Calgary police announced they were beefing up resources to combat rising vehicle thefts in the city. In the first half of 2017, there were 2,998 stolen vehicle report in Calgary. This is an increase of 13 percent from the same period in 2016, “... and 48 per cent more than the five-year average. On average, 19 vehicles were stolen each day in Calgary in the second quarter of this year,” according a story in the Calgary Herald. The Calgary police put together a special team to look into the matter. According to a press release at the time, “This team will continue to work closely with members of the Auto Theft Resource Team (ATRT), as well as the Prolific Offender Engagement Team (POET), to investigate auto thefts in the city and target known prolific auto theft offenders.”

The efforts appear to be paying off. Over the Labour Day weekend, in three separate covert operations, police arrested seven people, laid 72 charges and seized weapons, body armour, drugs and “multiple stolen vehicles,” according to the report. In each of those operations, “... police targeted known car thieves who had outstanding warrants or were suspected of actively committing crimes. Resources were pooled between various law enforcement teams to locate suspects, gather evidence and make arrests.” One case offered by Calgary police as an example: “... a man wanted on warrants was spotted driving a stolen rental vehicle. Officers followed the man on Monday to a parking lot in the 2100 block of Crowchild Trail where he met with two others. All three were arrested. A search of the vehicles resulted in the confiscation of two pistols, a rifle, body armour, bear spray, an estimated $4,000 worth of various illegal drugs and $6,000 in cash.”

- A collision repair centre in Kamsack, Saskatchewan is temporarily closed after a fire this past week. The Kamsack Times reports the fire department was called to Blaine’s Auto Body on First Street. “Firemen attempted to enter the building through the front door, but were turned away because of heavy smoke … They entered the rear door, again facing heavy smoke, but were able to open the large garage door in order to ventilate the building … As the smoke cleared the firefighters discovered that a vehicle that had been in the shop for repair was fully engulfed in fire … Although the cause of the fire is still undetermined, it seems probable that it had to do with the vehicle’s electrical system,” according to the report.

- A UK ad appeared online recently to offer up an epic used vehicle: A 1984 bus that had been customized into a road home for heavy metal band Black Sabbath. As you can imagine, the bus isn’t in the best of shape. According to the ad the engine is an, “... 8.2 litre diesel, push button automatic that has only covered around 160,000.” In more recent times, the bus was used to provide cheap accommodation up in Edinburgh. The bus was delivered to where it currently sits about “three years ago.” Apparently the tires are inflated. All you need to do is bring two big 12-volt batteries and you’re good to go in mid-’80s Black Sabbath style. “The interior has been knocked around plenty but still has bunks, and kitchen of sorts, a toilet compartment/sink and many 240v power sockets. Would make a fantastic project for someone!,” according to the ad.



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