A Fortis utility truck was stolen from the site of a gas line break in Nanaimo on Tuesday and driven all the way to Campbell River where a 22-year-old suspect was arrested. (Photo courtesy Joy Livingstone)

A Fortis utility truck was stolen from the site of a gas line break in Nanaimo on Tuesday and driven all the way to Campbell River where a 22-year-old suspect was arrested. (Photo courtesy Joy Livingstone)

Man arrested in Campbell River after stealing utility truck from scene of gas leak in Nanaimo

Truck’s flashing amber lights made it ‘very easy to follow,’ say RCMP

A man was arrested Tuesday after stealing a utility truck from the scene of a gas leak in Nanaimo and driving it all the way to Campbell River.

The incident happened shortly before 1 p.m. Feb. 2 on Brechin Road where a Fortis crew was repairing a break in a natural gas line caused by construction work. Brechin Road was closed to traffic for safety reasons by Nanaimo Fire Rescue, Nanaimo RCMP and the City of Nanaimo at the time, but that didn’t deter a man from hopping into Fortis’ newer-model Ford truck and driving off with it.

According to witness Alex Verardi, two workers associated to the truck immediately ran to a nearby RCMP vehicle, yelling that the truck had been stolen, as it took off with “its engine roaring.”

“I heard it and then I looked out the window and I saw the two men flying down the street toward the police [vehicle] that was parked at the end,” Verardi said. “They were yelling, ‘He stole it! He stole it!’ As soon as the two workers got halfway down the street one of the police SUVs took off after it.”

“[The RCMP officer] broadcast the vehicle and the plate to all other members and the vehicle was last seen driving down Brechin to Stewart and going southbound on Stewart,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “The vehicle was quickly acquired by another member driving an unmarked SUV and it was stopped near the lights at Comox and Terminal [Avenue].”

When the officer turned on his lights and siren, the man in the stolen Fortis truck took evasive action by driving onto the sidewalk – nearly colliding with a lamp standard – and took off up Comox Road.

“The member did not pursue the vehicle because the risk to the public outweighed stopping that vehicle,” O’Brien said.

He said unmarked cars followed the vehicle out of Nanaimo as it continued northbound “with flashing lights on, so it was very easy to follow,” O’Brien said.

Campbell River RCMP took over the investigation once the vehicle was in their area and the truck was recovered that evening. A 22-year-old male suspect who recently took up residence on the Island was arrested for theft of a vehicle over $5,000 and remains in custody.

READ ALSO: RCMP looking for driver who fled wreck on Nanaimo’s Departure Bay Road

READ ALSO: Police dog chases down suspect on the run in Nanaimo’s south end



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CrimeRCMPtheft

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greg Janicki (left), owner of Dogwood Pet Mart rasied $410 this year for the Campbell River SPCA’s Loonies for Love fundraiser which he presented to Stephanie Arkwright, branch manager of the BCSPCA – Campbell River Community Animal Centre. Photo contributed
Pandemic doesn’t stop annual Loonies for Love SPCA fundraiser

Fundraising has been a bit challenging over the past year, but the… Continue reading

NIC Engineering student Johnny Marshall lowers a prototype oyster grow-out system into the ocean for testing in Campbell River. Photo courtesy NIC
NIC partners with Cortes shellfish company on oyster research

Study and testing hoping to mitigate the impacts of warming oceans on oyster mortality

The intersection at Dogwood Street and 13th Avenue, next to the No. 1 Firehall, will see some improvements over the next six weeks or so, according to the city. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Intersection improvements coming to Dogwood and 13th Avenue

Expect delays for up to six weeks once work begins, city says

Oyster River fire has responded to 56 calls so far in 2021. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Department
Oyster River Fire averaged one call per day in busy February

One weekend saw 12 calls for service from crew

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for their upcoming virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline Musical Theatre hoping for last minute ticket surge

Popular annual run of shows costs $7,000-$8,000 to put on. They’ve sold $750 in tickets

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

Most Read