By Gaven Crites
100 Mile Free Press
A rancher from near 100 Mile House recently used an airplane to chase a pickup truck carrying stolen property on Highway 24 and Highway 5 north of Kamloops.
Pilot and ranch manager Greg Messner relayed information to the RCMP throughout the chase, but police were unable to locate the vehicle and the pilot was forced to turn around before he reached Kamloops.
Messner now questions the RCMP’s response time and if proper procedures were followed.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, 100 Mile Ranch owner Marina Cecil observed a pickup truck loaded with ranch property leaving the property. She followed the vehicle to Highway 24 and called RCMP and Messner with a description of the truck and the license plate number.
After seeing close to $7,000 in property was in fact missing, Messner decided to try and locate the truck from the air. From the information he received from Cecil, he reasoned the driver of the truck was headed to Kamloops and he says he located the truck on the south side of Barriere.
“I circled around him for about 60 kilometres (and spent) about a half hour tracking him on the highway,” says Messner, who says he provided regular updates on the location of the vehicle and descriptions of other cars in the area to help RCMP.
“I thought for sure they would have had someone out on the road. The system never worked on the cop’s side.”
The investigation into the break-and-enter is continuing and RCMP have been in close consultation with Messner to address some of his concerns.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, media relations with the South East District, says at this time multiple detachments are looking at how the information was shared between them via the dispatchers.
“It’s a pretty typical incident where at times we’ll have a theft in progress with vehicle descriptions and there’s attempts made to intercept and stop the vehicle. This [case] has a bit of twist in the sense the complainant jumped into a private aircraft and was able to locate what he believes to be the suspect vehicle and call in a location.
“Certainly there’s an expectation from the public and certainly we’re there to provide a response when thefts are occurring. We’d like to see getting the bad guy in all incidents.
“Here, unfortunately we didn’t and we’re looking if something occurred that caused a delay to getting a patrol vehicle out.”
Messner says he’s less worried about what was stolen and more concerned about catching the thief and reviewing the RCMP’s response to make sure the proper steps were followed.
“I’m out there doing my part; I’m hoping the system is also working with me to help catch the guy.”