As stories of looters emerge amid the wildfire crisis in the interior, a Chilliwack man is facing an unusual charge in court for allegedly violating the Emergency Program Act (EPA).
In addition to criminal charges of possession of property obtained by crime, possessing break-in instrument, and resisting arrest, Edward Felix James Leo faces one count of contravening a state of emergency under the EPA.
The date of the alleged offence is July 12, and the location is 100 Mile House.
No details have emerged in the case, but the 26-year-old Leo was brought to the Chilliwack Law Courts from Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre for a brief appearance Friday. He was remanded to the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre and was scheduled to appear via video in Chilliwack on July 18.
The charge comes as numerous reports of theft and break-and-enter have emerged from the 100 Mile House area.
On Monday, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) said an arrest was made during a joint forces operation targeting a prolific property offender. The operation by CFSEU in co-ordination with members of the BC Conservation Service and other RCMP agencies, conducted a search on a remote property in the Beaver Creek area outside of Williams Lake. The search turned up approximately $65,000 in heavy equipment.
Shane Brady, a 38-year-old Big Lake resident, was arrested and charged. He was remanded and is next due in court July 20.
“Additional RCMP officers have been deployed to a number of communities around BC including Williams Lake, Ashcroft/Cache Creek, and 100 Mile, to assist with BC Fire Services operations and to supplement core RCMP policing duties,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson in a press release issued Monday.
On July 10, Saunderson reported on four incidents in the 100 Mile House area.
First, two youths were located Monday after the evacuation order had been issued in possession of break and enter tools, according to Saunderson. RCMP Tactical team members provided assistance to the 100 Mile RCMP in locating the youths, and both were arrested and released on strict conditions until a future court date.
Then 100 Mile House RCMP arrested a man for break-and-enter in the evacuation order area. He was remanded in custody for a provincial court appearance in Kamloops Tuesday. Brett Albe Berube, 54, faces one count of break-and-enter and one count of contravening a state of emergency.
The charge of contravening a state of emergency is under section 27-1-a of the EPA and conviction comes with a sentence of not more than one year in jail, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
Before that, individuals “well-known to RCMP” were arrested on Sunday. During the course of investigation, police seized weapons, bear spray and heroin, and recovered a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle believed to be stolen. That investigation is ongoing.
Also on Sunday, police were advised that three unknown people were attempting to break into a Telus vehicle. Employees interrupted the individuals and tried to locate them before notifying the authorities.
All efforts made by police to locate these individuals were unsuccessful.
“The RCMP is prepared to address all fire-related scenarios including regular policing duties, assisting with safe evacuation, patrolling evacuated neighbourhoods, managing traffic congestion, road safety and emergency response,” Saunderson said.
“Criminal activity will not be tolerated in any area.”
Saunderson also reported on Thursday that a day before a 27-year-old male and a 24-year-old female were arrested after a vehicle stop, found with what police allege was a TV stolen from an evacuated home in Williams Lake. Based on that vehicle stop, Mounties obtained a search warrant for another residence and discovered several items believed to have been taken from three other evacuated residences.
- with files from the 100 Mile Free Press