Brittney McLaren, who is six months pregnant, was planning to go for her ultrasound appointment Monday morning, but found herself defending one of her cannabis plants from a man with a machete who was attempting to steal it. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Would-be cannabis plant thief swings machete at pregnant woman in Nanaimo

Victim unhurt after Albert Street incident, police hope public can help track down suspect

Nanaimo RCMP are on the lookout for a man who struck a pregnant woman in the head with a machete while trying to rob her of a cannabis plant.

Brittney McLaren, who lives on Albert Street, was in her backyard at about 9:30 a.m. Monday when a man reached through the fence with a machete and tried to cut off a piece of one of her plants.

“I was outside and we have these four little pot plants in planters,” McLaren said. “I was outside trimming my plants and this guy snuck up on one side of my fence that isn’t too well built, grabbed a plant and started hacking away at it with a machete.”

McLaren’s first instinct was to grab the planter and pull it out of harm’s way.

“I went and grabbed the bottom of the planter to try and pull it away from him and I could feel the machete hitting the top of my head a few times,” she said.

McLaren said she was struck maybe four times by her assailant who was wearing a mask and sunglasses. Fortunately McLaren was wearing a baseball cap and the would-be thief was unable to get a good swing at her.

Her assailant managed to hack off part of the plant, but failed to obtain the clipping, so he yelled a profanity at McLaren and then made his escape along the nearby train tracks on his bicycle.

McLaren yelled for her husband and then ran across Albert Street to the Superette Foods grocery store where staff called Nanaimo RCMP. Police responded with several vehicles and patrolled the area, but were unable to find the suspect.

McLaren, who said she is originally “from a farm in Saskatchewan where we don’t see this” and moved to Nanaimo last fall, wasn’t injured, but was rattled by the experience.

“It really sucked for me because I was supposed to be going for my ultrasound to find out the gender of my baby because I’m six months pregnant,” she said. “I can’t wait to tell my kid this story.”

She said she’d never seen the man with the machete in the area before, but did manage to get a photo of him. She also heard from a neighbour that a man had been seen swinging a machete at some bushes about 30 minutes earlier in a garden on Robson Street.

“This really isn’t such a bad neighbourhood and this is the first problem we’ve had since we’ve been here,” McLaren said.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the complaint was filed by investigators as an assault with a weapon and that McLaren was offered assistance of RCMP Victim Services, which she declined.

The suspect is described as Caucasian, about 40 years old with a scruffy beard. He was wearing a black jacket with red sleeves, black pants and running shoes.

“Somebody was obviously trying to steal something in her property, which was very disturbing for her,” O’Brien said. “We did active patrols. We took it very seriously, regardless of the nature of the call, and we’re hoping the public can assist.”

Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2020-36595.

TODAY’S MOST READ: New buildings in Nanaimo win awards as best in the region



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

Crime

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

Just Posted

The Campbell River Sportsplex in Willow Point is the voting station for the Feb. 27 municipal byelection. Voting runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
Voting underway in Campbell River’s municipal byelection

You can cast your ballot today at the Sportsplex until 8 p.m.

With the full build-out of its 477 Hilchey Road development almost complete, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North is setting its sights on its next batch of housing: right next door. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Habitat for Humanity looks to start a third Hilchey Road project

With the current site on Hilchey Road in the final stage of… Continue reading

Ian Baikie shows the new kitchen space at Hama?Elas shortly before the facility opened late last year. Mirror File Photo.
Campbell River City Council updated on Hama?Elas and Kwesa Place

Funding was set to run out at end of March, but organizers say they can go another six months

Tyson Popove placed second in his category at the Mt. Washington Viewtour Virtual Slopestyle event. Photo by Shawn Corrigan
Campbell River skier goes big at Mt. Washington competition

Tyson Popove places second in virtual slopestyle event

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

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 Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Most Read