Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Start’

To Catch a Thief

Written by Harold McNeill on January 21st, 2011. Posted in Police Notebook


Find out how an old friend managed to nail the thieves who were stealing gas from the company fuel storage tank.

Stealing Gas From Tank

The following incident happened in the early 2000s, was written in 2005 and posted in 2011 when this blog was first opened.  The man at the centre of the story, about eighty at the time, was a short and stocky and, along with his deep, gravelly, no-nonsense voice, these combined features lent an air of command and sincerity that drew people to him.  Before the story was published, Jack gave permission to use his name along with photos of he and his wife and their family home on a thirty-acre piece of property north of Victoria, British Columbia.

For over 50 years, Jack earned a good living blasting and building roads to mines and logging facilities over the length and breadth of Vancouver Island. He was an honest, hard-working man who would give his last dollar to someone in need but, steal or try to steal something from Jack and he could get his dander up in a hurry.

1. To Catch a Thief 

At 4:00 am it was overcast and pitch-black at the home of Start home when the driveway alarm Jack had linked to their doorbell roused him from his slumber.  He jumped from the bed and slipped on his boots while telling Ruthie, to just stay put as he would be back shortly. He grabbed his shotgun and while still in his pyjamas opened the door knowing no one would be standing there.

Jack was almost certain tonight was the night he would catch himself a thief. He wasn’t angry, hell, he wasn’t even nervous as he walked to his truck and climbed in, he was a man on a mission. Even though he had just turned eighty, he was still not willing to let those thieving bastards continue to drive Start Homeaway with his gas. If the RCMP could not catch them, come hell or high water, Jack would do the job for them. He started the engine, jammed this heavier work truck in gear and set out heading up his along winding driveway towards the shop area.

The Start home (photo left) was situated on an isolated acreage overlooking Brentwood Bay, a half kilometre below the Malahat Drive section of the Trans Canada about three kilometres northeast of Goldstream Park. Nestled in a grove of tall evergreens and surrounded by manicured lawns, the home was perched on the edge of a cliff that dropped 150 meters to the dark, cold waters of Brentwood  Bay.

Photo (personal files):  Looking down the winding driveway towards the Start home.  The fuel storage area and workshop was located in a secluded area about 100 meters further up the slope. The truck in the driveway is his general use pick-up, not his heavier work truck with a winch on the front.

When looking out their living room window at night, the glow of light filtering into the clouds and mist above Greater Victoria, some 20 kilometres due south, added to the sense peacefulness of the area. The silence was only interrupted by the occasional sounds of traffic moving along the Malahat.

In the 1960’s Jack and Ruth selected this thirty-acre property to build their dream home as much for the spectacular view as for the abundant wildlife that Jack and Ruth nurtured with loving care. On any given day when travelling down the long winding driveway, it was evident the deer and all manner of other animals and birds loved this location as Jack made twice-weekly trips to Victoria to pick discarded vegetables and fruit at Thrifty Foods in Broadmead.

However, life on the property was not always as peaceful as Jack and Ruth had hoped. Over the years and particularly in the last several months, thieves had been making regular night-time visits to Jack’s workshop and fuel area about 300 meters up his driveway towards the Malahat.  He had never installed gates or fences as he wanted the wild life to have free range of the property.

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  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.