Hope B.C. – A police sweep of the community, aimed at catching the thief who has been terrorizing the town for over four weeks, was botched by the actions of an apparent Good Samaritan, Saturday evening.
After weeks of vehicle break-ins, as many as 10 reports streaming into police each morning, officers set out to catch the thief.
“Five RCMP members were working the downtown core in a plain-clothed operation,” said Const. Tracy Wolbeck.
Then at about 9 p.m., a young man spotted a suspicious male coming out from his neighbour’s driveway on King Street. Once alerted by the young man, the neighbour discovered that their vehicle had been rummaged through and called police. The young man sped off to see if he could find the culprit.
Cruising down the pitch-black alley behind the home, the young man came across two men on bikes. He used the vehicle he was driving to “pin them both up against a chain link fence – twice,” added Wolbeck.
But instead of a thief, “it was two police officers with guns. Wow, it was a real set-up for disaster.”
Unaware of who was attacking them, out of the darkness, the officers drew their guns and advised the driver that they were the police. But perhaps thinking that the officers were thieves or drug dealers “just lying to him to get away” – the young man sped off, said Wolbeck.
The officers followed him to his home where he was taken into custody, charged with dangerous driving, and released on a promise to appear in court.
The two bike patrol officers had been patrolling the high crime neighbourhood and were actually responding to the neighbour’s call for help, when they ran into the young man in the alley. They were not injured in the incident.
“It was a bad cycle of events,” said Wolbeck, on Monday, March, 14.
And “we still haven’t got the guy, because dealing with this fellow all evening defeated the purpose of the plain-clothed operation.”
Along with the bike patrols numerous patrol vehicles were also tied up for the night investigating the incident.
“What we can learn is not to take the law into our own hands. It could have gone very, very badly, and thankfully it did not.”
Just observe and phone the police immediately, said Wolbeck.
“With the town ramped up,” the situation could get dangerous on the streets for both police and the public, warns Wolbeck.
We are on it, that is why the officers were out on bikes doing street checks, and yet, this is the result when someone takes the law into their own hands… leave it to the experts, added Wolbeck.