Cowichan’s population exceeds 80,000 people and with many more coming and going at any given time, it comes as no surprise that RCMP in the region were kept busy in 2015.
Officers at the region’s four major detachments dealt with everything from petty crime to fatal automobile accidents and even murders — so many in fact, that’s it’d be impossible to write a concise recap of only the cases they presented to the media. What follows is a not-at-all complete review of some of the more curious, interesting, and frightening cases of 2015:
• In early February, a man robbed the Mill Bay Pharmasave. The suspect waited outside the store until customers had left, then walked to the pharmacy and demanded that the staff hand over prescription drugs. He then went behind the counter and stole an undisclosed amount of medications.
• Garbage bags packed with marijuana and thousands of dollars in cash were seized from an Alberta man after he was stopped for speeding on Chemainus Road, mid February.
• Also mid month, the 7-Eleven at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Trunk Road was evacuated on Sunday evening after someone called the store with a bomb threat.
The threat turned out to be a hoax, but police treat all such instances seriously, according to Sgt. Chris Swain of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.
“It’s better safe than sorry. We have to make sure it’s not a valid complaint.”
• In early March a beloved bear carving was stolen from the Secret Garden courtyard behind the Hansel and Gretel Candy Shoppe in Chemainus. At around 200 pounds, it wouldn’t have been easy to move.
• Thieves struck again shortly thereafter, taking a statue of a mother and child — belonging to a Duncan resident who was holding a garage sale.
“A garage sale usually means things are for sale, not for stealing,” North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Krista Hobday said.
• In April, a man was apprehended after it was reported that he was wandering around the area south of Duncan with a gun. A friend of the man called police saying that he had been seen with a gun, and police began a search for him.
By the time he was located, he had ditched the weapon, but it was later recovered as well.
• Also that month, more than 16 officers from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment converged on Drinkwater Elementary after a threat was called in. Students were dismissed, the playground was cleared and ultimately police found there was no truth to the threat, but would not call it a hoax.
• In May, a variety of drugs and an unspecified weapon were seized by police in a raid on a Cowichan Bay home. “When our officers entered the home, they found it unoccupied, but a large quantity of marijuana, methamphetamine, other drug trafficking materials, and a weapon were seized,” North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Chris Swain said.
• In June, two Duncan men spent a night in jail and faced further charges after an incident that began with a report of shots being fired at a Cowichan Lake Road residence. With the help of a service dog, and with “minimal threat” to the officers and the public, the two men, aged 22 and 23, were taken into custody. One of the suspects cooperated with the police and showed them where the gun was in the vehicle.
•At the end of June, a 25-year-old Crofton man was stabbed at the Tim Hortons parking lot on Drinkwater Road.
“Two men, one of which is the victim, became involved in fisticuffs after a road rage incident just before three in the afternoon,” North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Cpl. Krista Hobday said. “The victim sustained very serious injuries and has since been released from hospital.”
• In July, two people were seriously injured after a small single-engine plane crashed at the Duncan Airport. Turbulence may have been to blame. The plane sustained significant damage, and the occupants, a 55-year-old male pilot and 43-year-old female passenger, were badly hurt. The pilot was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, while the passenger was taken by ground ambulance to Cowichan District Hospital.
• Also in July, Campers at the Pine Point Campground on the north shore of the lake near Youbou watched as a motorboat purposely swerved into a flock of geese floating about 400 feet off the shoreline. The boat struck and killed one of the geese. Among the witnesses were several children.
“The witnesses report that this was a deliberate action on the part of the boat operator,” said Const. Bruce Coles of the Lake Cowichan RCMP.
• At the end of July, a Duncan taxi driver came to the rescue of a 19-year-old man when he scared off three other men who were beating him with a baseball bat.
The taxi driver then gave the victim a ride home.
• In August, a stray bullet through the window of his excavator had a Cobble Hill man wondering just who pulled the trigger. The 57-year-old was working on a property on Cavin Road when the back window of his small excavator shattered sending glass down on top of him, police confirmed.
• In September, eight agricultural prize medals were stolen from the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives.
• A Duncan woman was left shaken but physically unharmed after an attempted abduction near the intersection of Trunk and Marchmont Roads in September.
• In mid-September, a minor hockey team was left without its cell phones, ball caps and one youth even had to go home shoeless, after what police called “a brazen theft” from the Cowichan Arena.
• Also in September, the owners at Al’s Asian Treasures in Chemainus were the target of thieves, for the second time in a year. Nine locally made cement statues were stolen after thieves cut a chain and lock to gain access. Seven months prior, 50 statues has been stolen.
• At the end of September, a Duncan woman was approached in her driveway by a man sporting what looked to be a police uniform. He wasn’t an officer.
“He drove into her driveway and began to make inquiries as if he was conducting an investigation,” according to North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Krista Hobday. “This is very disturbing, to hear that a person is out there pretending to be a police officer.”
• A porn scam in October left a Duncan man surprised to learn his personal computer was apparently being used to distribute child pornography all over the Internet. Except that it wasn’t. It was a scam aimed at getting the man’s personal information but he didn’t bite.
• One fewer magic mushroom labs exists in North Cowichan thanks to a Nov. 6 raid.
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP’s street crimes unit got help from E Division’s specialized Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team to execute a warrant on a psilocybin grow op. Seized were both drug paraphernalia and a number of containers used to cultivate what is suspected to be psilocybin mushrooms.
• Also in early November, a 29-year-old Chemainus man was beaten in what police are calling a targeted attack outside his Westholme-area home. The man remains in hospital with serious injuries.