ALDER BAY RESORT PHOTO The owners of the 21’ White RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) were ecstatic to get their property back.

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

An Island wide crime spree spanning over a month and involving several communities from Victoria to Port Hardy resulted in the arrest of a 43-year-old male and a 22-year-old female in Chemainus.

‘Police from several jurisdictions across Vancouver Island were involved in investigating numerous criminal offences committed by the male, a resident of the Cowichan Valley,” stated Port Hardy RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen via press release. “The crime spree started on or about June 14, when North Cowichan Duncan RCMP attempted to stop the male for a traffic violation in the City of Duncan.”

According to Olsen, the male, who is disqualified from driving Canada-wide, failed to stop for police and fled the scene causing the police officer to have to take evasive action to avoid from being run over. A warrant was then issued for the male’s arrest for dangerous driving, flight from police and driving while disqualified.

RELATED: RCMP ERT arrests boat theft suspects near Chemainus

“In the following weeks, North Cowichan Duncan members again believed they observed the suspect male driving in the City of Duncan and once again tried to pull the vehicle over with the driver fleeing and failing to stop for police,” Olsen stated, adding this same male was suspected to be in possession of a stolen white Toyota Tacoma pick up out of Victoria on June 26 and was driving it around the Cowichan Valley.

On July 2, a Silver Dodge pick up was stolen from a used vehicle dealership in Duncan with the male being the suspect. “Three days later on July 5, a 21’ white RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) was stolen out of the driveway of a residence in Nanaimo,” Olsen said. “Surveillance video showed a silver Dodge pick up back up to the boat and a male exit the driver’s side, hook up the boat and drive away.”

It was then that photographs of the stolen boat along with the surveillance video of the theft began to be shared on social media.

According to Olsen, a Port McNeill RCMP officer noted the stolen silver Dodge and RHIB was reportedly seen heading toward the North Island, so the officer pro-actively went and started looking around. He attended the Alder Bay Campground and in speaking with the owners they reported seeing the truck and boat the previous day and provided the surveillance video.

“Surveillance video showed a male matching the suspect to be the driver of the Silver Dodge pick up,” said Olsen, “Unfortunately, the campground was not aware at the time that the two trucks and boat had been stolen from down island.”

Still photographs of the Alder Bay Campground surveillance video showing the two trucks and boat began making the rounds on Social Media. “These photographs were being shared all over the North Island,” noted Olsen, adding, “No doubt the suspects had become aware of the immense media exposure and made efforts to stay out of the public eye.”

It was July 9 when the Port Hardy RCMP received a complaint of a white Toyota Tacoma pick up being found abandoned in the bush area in behind the Airport Inn on Byng Rd in Port Hardy. “Police located the pick up parked in the bush partially covered with branches,” said Olsen. “The Toyota was confirmed to be the one stolen out of Victoria on June 26 and was also the same truck seen on the Alder Bay Campground surveillance video from July 6 along with the silver Dodge pick up and white RHIB.”

Olsen said the Port Hardy RCMP believed the white Toyota Tacoma pick up had been dumped behind the Airport Inn on July 6 after it had departed the Alder bay Campground. “Port Hardy members began an extensive search of the detachment area as it was believed that the silver Dodge and white boat were still in the area as tips began to trickle in that the truck and boat had been seen in Port Hardy and on a forest service road out toward Port Alice on or about July 6.”

The RCMP helicopter from Comox was then brought in to help search from the air to try and cover as much ground as possible. Port Hardy RCMP also alerted partner agencies on the North Island to be on the lookout for the stolen truck and boat.

“On July 13, North Cowichan Duncan RCMP located the stolen silver Dodge pick up in the Chemainus area. Extra resources were called in along with the Island District Emergency Response Team,” said Olsen, adding that, “At approximately 6:45 p.m. police were able to safely effect an arrest of the 43-year-old male and 22-year-old female in possession of the stolen silver Dodge pick up. Several stolen licence plates along with other stolen items were recovered from the silver Dodge as was a small quantity of drugs and drug paraphernalia.”

Investigation revealed that the stolen white RHIB had been dumped off a forest service road in between Port Alice and Port McNeill. Port Hardy members immediately attended and successfully recovered the white RHIB on the evening of July 13.

“The boat was found to be in good condition and the owner was notified of its recovery. They were ecstatic to learn of its recovery,” said Olsen, who added that social media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in helping bring this multi-jurisdictional investigation to a safe and successful conclusion. “There is no doubt that the perpetrator of all these crimes was feeling immense heat and pressure from all the media attention that he and the stolen property was attracting. This made it harder for him to remain anonymous or blend in and eventually lead to his arrest.”

The male is facing numerous charges from several police jurisdictions all over Vancouver Island and has been remanded into custody to appear in Duncan Provincial Court on July 16.

– with files from S/Sgt. Wes Olsen, Port Hardy Detachment Commander

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