A Victoria man will be spending the holidays in police custody following a chain of events that began with threats and an assault at a Duncan 7-Eleven last Wednesday.
Around 10:30 p.m., the North Cowichan/ Duncan RCMP received a call from the 7-Eleven on Lakes Road reporting that an employee had been threatened by a man, and when he was told to leave, he struck her with the store’s door. The vehicle he left in matched the description of one that had been stolen on Dec. 1.
Plainclothes officers nearby spotted the stolen 2014 Hyundai and followed it as it turned north on the Trans-Canada Highway toward Chemainus.
"They were waiting for him to stop, to minimize the danger this man posed to the community," Cpl. Krista Hobday explained. "Each time the police tried to stop this car in the past, the thief would speed away with reckless disregard for public safety. The suspect was wanted across Vancouver Island for endangering the citizens of numerous communities."
As the suspect headed north, other officers with marked police cars set up a roadblock near Chemainus with a tire-deflation device to stop him safely. Moments before he reached the roadblock, however, he turned left into a gas station where he noticed police vehicles awaiting his arrival. He rammed a police car before heading west down a road the police knew was a dead end.
As the Hyundai slowed down, a passenger who had been picked up hitchhiking jumped out of the vehicle. At the end of the road a resident’s fence put a stop to the car.
"Thankfully, the hitchhiker was able to get out uninjured, but they were shaken up," Cpl. Jon Stuart said. The police were also concerned about why the suspect was alerted to the roadblock. "Why did he turn left and avoid the Mounties’ carefully constructed plan?" Sgt. Chris Swain asked. "Quite simply, he was warned by southbound motorists that a road block was imminent, by flashing their
Hobday cautioned motorists not to alert their fellow drivers to roadblocks, for various reasons. "The officers serving your community at North Cowichan/Duncan detachment and across the province continue, even during the holiday season, to take dangerous criminals off of our streets in the safest way possible," she said. "We would appreciate your assistance with this.
One could argue that the person flicking their high beams couldn’t have known the history of the prolific offender they were warning. What they should know is that warning possible thieves and drunk drivers with whom they are sharing the road is in fact putting themselves, their families, and others at risk. The police are working hard to keep those who contravene the Criminal Code and Motor Vehicle Act off of the road to make driving safer for everyone."
The suspect in last Wednesday’s events, 31-year-old Peter Charles Leno, was arrested and made his first appearance in Duncan Provincial Court the following day. He is charged with assault and making threats, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, evading a police officer, and two counts of mischief to property.
"Stay safe this holiday season and please do not drink and drive," Swain added. "P.S.: Please also don’t steal cars either."