On the evening of Nov. 8, Gina MacInnis was about to put her three children to bed when her husband noticed something unusual.
"My husband was heading out to hockey, and noticed that the dormer light in our van was on and kind of just alerted me to that," MacInnis said.
"We attributed it to maybe our kids running out to the van."
Shortly after her husband left, MacInnis heard her dogs barking outside their rural home in Lakevale, about 25 kilometres north of Antigonish, N.S.
After the strange light in the van, the barking unsettled her and tweaked her "spidey sense," MacInnis said.
She was just closing the door to her youngest child's bedroom when she heard the door downstairs click. MacInnis, who is pregnant, picked up the only heavy object in sight — a wooden stool — and headed downstairs.
"As I was coming down the stairs, a man was coming around toward the stairs and I just held the stool up over my head and told them to get out," she said.
The man fled through the front door, but not before MacInnis recognized him as Gavin Griffiths.
Griffiths, 35, is a convicted sex offender with a criminal history stretching back to 2005. He was convicted of multiple offences in Ottawa but moved back to the Antigonish area where he grew up when he was released from custody in 2016.
MacInnis said she had seen him in the community before and was aware of his record, but didn't know he was currently living in the area.
A stolen car
MacInnis then called her neighbour, Elaine Robertson, to let her know about the man who fled her home. But the intruder had already managed to get into Robertson's parked car.
Robertson said she heard the sound of an engine revving in their driveway, which she realized was her own car.
She yelled to her husband, who was asleep on the couch, that the car was being stolen. Robertson's husband, Greg, immediately ran outside.
"He got to the car and then the driver attempted to hit Greg. Greg got out of the way, got touched by the car, but he wasn't injured."
Greg Robertson then hopped in his own car and followed the stolen vehicle.
Trapped until police arrive
About a kilometre away from the Robertson's home, the thief hit a bank at high speed and the car flipped twice.
Greg Robertson stopped his car and noticed a man was attempting to kick out the windshield. He then pulled his vehicle up and began honking the horn repeatedly until a neighbour heard and came with a cellphone and called for help. Robertson blocked the thief from getting out of the vehicle until police arrived.
The man was taken to hospital by ambulance due to the injuries he sustained in the crash.
Antigonish RCMP have charged Gavin Sean Griffiths with breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence, theft, mischief and impaired operation of a conveyance because he failed a breathalyzer test upon his arrest.
Although no one else was physically hurt, the community has been shaken by the events that happened.
"Everyone is checking in on each other. Everybody, I think, is feeling the same level of unease," Elaine Robertson said.
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