Following several notable criminal instances which have taken place in recent weeks, Strathmore RCMP Staff Sergeant Mark Wielgosz spoke to the surplus of incidents.
Arrest of copper wire thieves
As detailed in a release, Strathmore RCMP received a report on June 1 at approximately 5:21 a.m. from Telus Communications regarding a break-in and theft in progress at a cell tower location.
The site was located on Range Road 261, south of Highway 24 in Wheatland County. RCMP were provided with a vehicle and suspect description of who was breaking into the tower and removing items.
“Our members were able to make an immediate response and block the cell tower location and from there, they conducted a high-risk takedown and took two people into custody,” said Wielgosz.
A high-risk takedown is described as an instance in which a suspect is using tools, items or potential weapons which may pose risk of injury to responding officers.
In such instances, the deployment of firearms RCMP members are equipped with may be implemented in order to ensure the compliance of suspects with police direction. This allows responding officers to safely take suspects into custody while minimizing the risk to RCMP members.
One suspect was male, the other female, both of whom were transported to the Strathmore RCMP detachment. The suspect vehicle was also towed for further examination.
A search of the suspect vehicle, a green 1999 Toyota Sienna, revealed a large amount of copper wire, cutting implements and break-in tools. It had previously been reported in Foothills County as having been driving suspiciously.
The female suspect who was arrested was also wanted on outstanding warrants from other police jurisdictions. She was released from custody on paperwork to attend a future court date.
The male suspect, 45-year-old Ryan Watson, was found to be wanted on nine outstanding warrants between four police jurisdictions, in addition to the charges laid by Strathmore RCMP.
The Calgary man was held in custody for a bail hearing and was eventually released in that hearing on further documents to appear at a future date.
Charges against Watson by the Strathmore RCMP included break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, theft over $5,000, possession of break-in tools and operating a motor vehicle without an operator’s license.
“Copper wire theft is fairly prevalent in rural areas or commercial sites. It hasn’t been too prevalent in the Strathmore area, but we are seeing an increase,” said Wielgosz. “The implementation of the Auto Recycler Act has reduced some of the ability for persons who steal copper wire to remain anonymous, but we are starting to see an uptick.”
Wielgosz explained the typical motivations behind theft of copper wire is monetary. Once the sheathing from the wire is removed, people will take the wire to a recycler to trade for cash.
Auto theft with infant inside stolen vehicle
Strathmore RCMP received a complaint on June 4 at approximately 10:24 p.m. that a vehicle had been stolen near the Strathmore Travelodge with a five-month-old child still inside.
According to a release, it was reported that the occupants of the vehicle were stopped for a break when a male wearing a reflective vest got into the driver’s seat and drove away.
The original occupants flagged a passing vehicle and followed the suspect while relaying information to the RCMP. With the information provided, Strathmore RCMP members, alongside Calgary Police Service HAWCS were able to locate the suspect.
The suspect was pursued by police to the overpass on Highway 1 and Highway 9 where he stopped the vehicle to remove the infant to the side of the road before once again continuing to evade police.
Strathmore RCMP collected the child to be reunited with the complainant later that evening.
The suspect was apprehended near Chestermere by police after abandoning the stolen vehicle and continuing on foot. The male was transported to the Strathmore RCMP detachment where he was later charged and remanded into custody.
“These are especially rare occurrences … there is no information to lead us to believe that the theft of vehicle was intended to abduct a child,” said Wielgosz. “We believe it was more of a crime of opportunity that happened to be that there was a child in the vehicle. Fortunately, we were able to recover the child unharmed and we were able to apprehend the offender.”
27-year-old Tejinder Brar from Calgary is charged with abduction of a child under 14, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from police, dangerous driving, and failure to comply with a condition of release.
Detailed in a release, police do not normally advise the public to pursue or follow stolen vehicles, as it creates a high-risk situation for all persons involved.
Multiple pharmacy break and enters
On June 5 at approximately 12:38 a.m. Strathmore RCMP was dispatched to a break-and-enter at a downtown pharmacy where significant force, possibly by a vehicle, was used to gain access through a garage bay door. According to a release, the break in marked the fourth at the location in the past three months.
Following working with the business owner after the previous break-ins, tracking technology was implemented that resulted in responding RCMP members being led to a nearby business where a pickup truck with fresh damage was noted.
A lone male occupant was found within the business they were led to. After conducting a search of the premises, RCMP recovered over 150 prescription medications.
“Strathmore Detachment investigators have been working with the business owner through the break and enters into their business to find ways to detect and prevent further victimization. Fortunately, in this case, this partnership led to an arrest, identification of the offender, recovery of prescription medication and anticipated charges as a result,” said Wielgosz. “Our Detachment members will continue to monitor this offender in the weeks and months to come in an effort to prevent further crimes. I’d like to thank the pharmacy owner for their cooperation and patience while our investigators worked to solve these crimes.”
A 36-year-old Strathmore man was arrested and transported to the Strathmore detachment where he was held and eventually released on conditions to appear at a future court date.
Wielgosz added RCMP are always open to receiving tips from the public to aid in crime prevention and apprehension of suspects, though also warns the public to remain safe while doing so and to not approach a suspect.
“This is a good opportunity to remind the public just to be mindful of commercial sites and if you notice suspicious activity … we need to know about it right away so we can effect immediate response.”
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times