Dog helps capture thieves
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 09:08 am
A four-year-old Yorkshire terrier is one town’s tiny hero after alerting its owners of thieves in action last week.
Coco’s persistent barking and growling led to the recovery of a stolen truck and more than 20 items including wallets, cash and electronics taken from vehicles on three Turner Valley streets early in the morning on April 16.
Shauna Stone woke up to her dog barking at 2:30 a.m. and knew something wasn’t right.
“He was acting like he would if somebody was coming to my house,” she said. “He was standing at our front window running back and forth.”
When Stone heard the loud engine of her Ford pick-up truck she looked out the window and noticed it was no longer parked in front of her home. She saw fresh tire tracks in the snow, grabbed the phone and called the RCMP.
Two hours later, two Calgary men were apprehended and more than 20 stolen items were recovered, including her truck.
Turner Valley RCMP Cpl. Tiffany McGregor said the officer on duty had no problem finding the tire tracks leaving the community north on Highway 22 and soon caught up to the stolen vehicle.
McGregor said the driver failed to pull over when indicated by the police officer, who continued to follow the vehicle. Just north of Millarville, the driver lost control of the truck and drove it into the ditch. Two men fled on foot.
The officer caught the driver after a brief foot chase and an RCMP Police Dog Service from Calgary was called to assist in apprehending the passenger. The police dog brought him down in a nearby building, McGregor said.
Calgary residents Austin Joel Savary, 20, and Brian Ronatty Hosker, 21, were charged with operating a vehicle while pursued by police, theft of a vehicle, nine counts of possessing property obtained by crime, breaking and entering with intent to commit an offence and two counts of mischief. Hosker faces two additional charges of obstructing a peace officer and failing to comply with an undertaking.
Savary and Hosker appeared in court on April 22 in Okotoks and April 23 in Calgary.
McGregor said the criminals arrived in Turner Valley in a vehicle stolen from Calgary.
The quick actions of Stone calling the RCMP contributed to the successful apprehension of the men and the return of the stolen items to their rightful owners, she said.
McGregor said many victims of theft wait too long to report the crime or don’t report it at all.
“We encourage people even if it’s just small things (to report it),” she said. “What may have been your sunglasses was the guy next door’s laptop.”
McGregor said its also important residents secure their vehicles and homes and keep valuables out of sight.
“It might be a bit of a small town mentality where they believe things like this don’t happen,” she said.
Stone admits she took living in a small town for granted when hiding the keys in the truck so her brother could borrow it when he needed to.
“It’s a country thing to do,” she said. “I think that people take advantage of that.”
The crime was an eye-opener to Stone, who has always felt safe in her community.
“Realistically we are only 25 minutes away from Calgary,” she said. “I definitely won’t be leaving keys in my vehicle anymore or my doors unlocked.”
Barry Crane, whose wallet was stolen from his unlocked vehicle that night, also felt secure on his quiet street.
“I’m shocked that someone would have the gall to drive out to our town and rob us and drive back to the city,” he said. “You don’t think about people coming in from the city to rob the small town folk. It’s a wake up call for us, especially with summer coming, to lock our doors and just keep an eye out.”
Crane, a town councillor, said he hopes criminals will learn a lesson from last week’s crime.
“It’s great that they got caught and hopefully serves as a reminder to anyone else who is thinking of coming out that there is a lot of people still awake late at night and lots of dogs,” he said.
As for Coco, he was well rewarded for his actions with a new collar and bone. Stone said neighbours called to thank Coco for his sharp ears and eyes that night and several people gave her cash to help pay for the impound fee to retrieve her truck, which was damaged when it entered the ditch.
Turner Valley RCMP are still trying to identify the owners of some stolen items and ask those with items that went missing from their vehicles on April 16 go to the detachment to claim them.