Gotcha A..hole

Written by Harold McNeill on November 29th, 2011. Posted in Police Notebook


37139650

An upside of being a policeman was being afforded the opportunity to get the upper hand on some idiot who cared nothing about the effect his actions had on innocent people. It might be as simple as traffic violation but in many cases, it also involved more serious criminal events.

Perhaps you have at one time experienced the feeling of being screwed around by someone but there was not a damn thing you could do about it? How good it would have felt to turn the tables. Hollywood has made dozens of movies on the subject although most dealt with violent crimes where retribution was meted out by an ‘off the rails citizen’ as in Law Abiding Citizen, or by that ‘no rules apply’ policeman, Dirty Harry.

The case at hand in this story was much tamer but never-the-less a crime that caused considerable anguish for the victim. In this house burglary in south Oak Bay, the owners was away on holidays. The crime was discovered by a neighbor doing a perimter check and although we had no idea what might have been taken, in the master bedroom we noticed a mess on the floor as if a pile of soot had been scattered about1.

When the family returned, they determined that among several items taken was a quantity of heirloom jewelry dating back to the great-great-grandparents on the mother’s side. It was a devastating loss, particularly to the wife as her father, who had recently passed away, had just given her the jewelry before he died. More on that in the story, but first, about the soot on the bedroom floor – it was her father’s ashes. A double whammy.  It was fortunate the ashes had not been vacuumed by the neighbor as we had asked him to leave the home as found in order to assist in the follow-up investigation.

Over the next week, my partner, Det. Sgt Fowler, and I put substantial effort into scanning the Pawn Sheets and shaking down suspects, but nothing came to light. Finally, while ‘squeezing’ a suspect in another case, we learned the burglar, in this case, was currently serving time in the Brannan Lake Youth Detention Centre in Nanaimo. He was inside for a burglary and a car theft in another jurisdiction.

Given our informant was usually reliable, we decided to see if the guy in Brannon Lake would take a ‘freebie’  (a pass on charges) in return for providing a lead on the missing jewelry. We drove to Nanaimo, arranged a meet and from the moment he entered the holding room, the kid directed a stream of expletives our way that would make a biker blush.  The case then fell onto the back burner as we knew he did it, but had no physical proof other than the word of our informant.

Two weeks later we received a tip about a suspect in another case hanging out in a basement suite just off Bay Street near Blanshard. Late one afternoon we scouted the area and while driving down the alley recorded the licence numbers of several vehicles which we then ran through CPIC (Canadian Police Information System) system. Bingo, one vehicle had been recently stolen in Nanaimo after a burglary of the owner’s home.

As we had nothing pressing on our agenda we decided to just sit tight and watch. Not long after dark, we saw a shadow emerge into the alley and enter the stolen 4X4.  When the engine started and the lights came on we roared down the alley, jumped out with guns drawn and shut down the suspect before he could even catch his breath.

After he was removed him from the vehicle and handcuffed, I shone the light in his face, then turned to Garth and said: “You know Garth, there really is a God!” It was our young friend from Brannon Lake. This time the suspect was considerably more subdued than when we first met.  A search of the vehicle revealed a number of items that would likely trace back to a Nanaimo burglary.

We had him solid on possession of a stolen vehicle and suspected some of the property in the vehicle was likely tied to the burglary. The Nanaimo RCMP would no doubt charge him with one or more burglaries in that city. As it seemed he destined to go down on several charges, we decided to try a little horse trading. We told him we would give him a pass on the Oak Bay B&E if he helped us recover the jewelry.

Well, it was a good news and bad news response. The good news, he admitted the burglary and told us he had tossed the jewelry, but then came the bad news – he had tossed it in a dumpster near the 7-11 at Cook and Pandora when he noticed police cars in the area and was afraid of being checked with the jewelry in his pocket.

As three weeks had now passed, it was highly unlikely the jewelry would still be present, but never-the-less we decided to do a little dumpster diving. No luck. It was a disappointing end to the case, but that disappointment was part and parcel of many investigations – nothing like the outcomes on most TV shows.

While Garth and I could never lay claim to being “Dirty Harry” types, we did share several “Gotcha Asshole” moments. The upside on this case, we managed to remove this offender from the streets for a few more months and it had felt ‘soooo’ good to tightly clamp the handcuffs on those thieving wrists…

Harold McNeill

1. While excessive damage during a burglary was not a regular occurrence the occasional culprit seemed bent on destroying property (throwing food around, knocking over plants, urinating or defecating on personal belongings, etc.). In one case on Foul Bay Road, the culprit(s) spent at least a half hour destroying property with the damage mounting into the thousands of dollars. In these cases, it seemed the damage was motivated almost entirely by anger at some perceived wrong. In these cases, it was particularly gratifying to catch the perpetrators and put them behind bars, even if just for a brief period.

(March 17, 2016 271)

(298)

(Visited 162 times, 1 visits today)

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

 

Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold