A month-long crime spree that spanned Victoria to Port Hardy reached its conclusion last week with the arrest of a 43-year-old man and 22-year-old woman in Chemainus on July 13.
The man is now facing numerous charges from several police jurisdictions across the Island and appeared in provincial court on July 16.
Suspect spotted in vehicle stolen from Victoria
The crime spree began on June 14 when North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP attempted to stop the man for a traffic violation. The man was disqualified from driving Canada-wide and fled the scene, nearly running over an officer in the process.
A warrant was issued for the man’s arrest, and in the following weeks, he was spotted driving in Duncan again. Police attempted to pull him over, but he fled police once more.
The man was suspected to be in possession of a white Toyota Tacoma pickup that was stolen out of Victoria on June 26, and was seen driving it around the Cowichan Valley area.
Additional truck and boat were stolen soon after
On July 2, the suspect stole another vehicle, this time a silver Dodge pickup, from a used car dealership in Duncan. Three days later, a 21-foot white rigid hull inflatable boat was stolen out of a driveway of a Nanaimo residence. Surveillance video captured the suspect backing the stolen Dodge up to the boat, hooking it up, and driving away.
On July 7, Port McNeill RCMP investigated when they learned that the stolen Dodge and boat were last seen headed towards the North Island area.
Police learned that the Dodge, boat in tow, and a white Toyota were all seen at the Alder Bay Campground on July 6. Surveillance video proved this to be true, but campground staff were unaware that the two trucks and boat were stolen.
On July 9, Port Hardy RCMP received a complaint of a white Toyota Tacoma being left in the bush behind the Airport Inn on Byng Road.
The truck was parked in the bushes and partially covered in branches, and was confirmed to be the one stolen from Victoria and seen in the Alder Bay surveillance video.
An extensive search of the area was soon underway as more tips came in saying the Dodge and boat had been spotted in Port Hardy and on a service road toward Port Alice.
Police take the search to the air
To cover as much ground as possible and aid in the search, an RCMP helicopter was brought in from Comox. Port Hardy RCMP alerted partner agencies on the North Island to be on the lookout.
On July 13, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP located the stolen Dodge pickup in the Chemainus area. The Island District Emergency Response Team were called in, and at approximately 6:45 p.m., the police were able to safely arrest both the male suspect and a 22-year-old woman in possession of the Dodge pickup.
Police found several stolen licence plates along with other stolen items, and a small quantity of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The stolen boat was recovered in good condition on a service road between Port Alice and Port McNeill on July 13.
Police pointed to social media and the citizens of the North Island as having a huge role in bringing the investigation to a safe 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,” the RCMP said in a release. “This made it harder for him to remain anonymous or blend in and eventually lead to his arrest.”