An RCMP dog tracked down a suspect in the bush near Coalmont last week, and then rewarded himself by stealing a chicken dinner from a camper in the area.
But an arrest wasn’t made before the hunted man rammed the police vehicle transporting the dog, and then abandoned his truck and hid in the wilderness.
According to Corporal Chad Parsons police, the hungry canine, an alert tipster and a Spotlight news article all played a part in a significant investigation.
And the arrest of a 49-year-old man with a Vancouver Island address should put an end to a counterfeiting ring that operated for the past few weeks in Princeton, Tulameen, Merritt, and Hope, said Parsons.
The drama began December 11, when police received a call of a suspicious vehicle in Tulameen. That vehicle – a black truck with unusually large light bars on both back and front – was spotted because its photo and description were published in last week’s newspaper in connection with a string of counterfeiting crimes.
While the truck was gone by the time police arrived, they returned later the following day and encountered it in Coalmont.
“It fled from us, and up into Granite Creek, up into the mountains,” said Parsons.
“We set up containment in the area and were able to follow tracks into the snow which led us to the vehicle, which ended up fleeing from us again. It rammed the police dog vehicle, causing some damage, but no one was injured.”
The vehicle entered the Granite Creek campground and became disabled. The suspect fled on foot.
After two hours the dog located the man near the river.
Police later discovered a trailer nearby, and recovered counterfeit $50 US bills, a printer, scanner and paper.
The RCMP German Shepherd was well-fed when he pinned down his target.
“As we were doing our tracking…there was another party in the area camping that was not associated with our accused. He had just finished cooking a chicken dinner. I guess the dog was hungry and he helped himself,” said Parsons.
“The camper was disappointed that he lost a piece of chicken but he wasn’t overly upset or anything. Then within a minute of that our dog found the accused hiding.”
Earlier this month several Princeton businesses were scammed by individuals passing fake U.S. currency.
The counterfeiters bought inexpensive items in stores, using $50 and $20 bills, and received legitimate Canadian change.
Local merchants lost at least $320.
RCMP first thought the culprits were passing through, as similar reports were received from Hope and Merritt.
However last weekend someone attempted to pay at a Tulameen store with fake bills, and photos of the suspect and his truck were published by The Spotlight.
At that time Parsons said it was possible the counterfeiters had a base in the area.
The man arrested last week has been charged with fleeing from police and assaulting a police officer.
Charges in connection with counterfeiting are pending, said Parsons, and charges against other individuals related to the case are also expected.
“There are others involved that have been identified…It seems like it was a group from the Island.”
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