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

Man steals utility truck from site of gas leak, drives it from Nanaimo to Campbell River

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

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest as reservations open

Green Point Campground is scheduled to open from May 1 – Oct. 12 this year.

Kale is a classic in West Coast gardens.
COLUMN: Kale reigns supreme in West Coast gardens

In Tofino and Ucluelet, kale is a classic.

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Theatre manager Sophie L’Homme is ecstatic to share the news that Tofino’s aging Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre is finally getting upgrades. (Nora O’Malley photo)
BC Arts grant funding breathes new life into Tofino’s community theatre

“Once it’s done, it’s going to be a pride of the town.”

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read