Two men are facing a combined total of 62 charges following a dangerous vehicular pursuit earlier this year that led police to the seizure of property stolen from all across Central Alberta.
At around 10 p.m. on Feb. 3, Sylvan Lake RCMP responded to numerous complaints of a truck driving erratically on Aspelund Road. The driver of the westbound vehicle refused to stop for police, and narrowly missed colliding head-on with an oncoming vehicle. Contact was avoided only through the oncoming driver’s evasive actions, police say.
Pursuit of the truck at that time was abandoned due to concerns for public safety, but police tracked it further while other police vehicles prepared to intercept it using tire deflation equipment.
The truck then left the road, lodging itself in a snowdrift near Rimbey, at which point two males — driver and passenger — fled in different directions on foot. The passenger was arrested immediately, while the driver was located by Police Dog Services soon after.
Police took two men into custody, and located a firearm inside the truck, along with a number of stolen credit cards.
A more detailed investigation was launched with help from a regional Priority Crimes Task Force and Red Deer RCMP’s General Investigation Section (GIS), and quickly turned up an array of stolen electronics, tools and other items — some of which were unloaded by the suspects in their attempts to evade arrest.
Police say both suspects at that time were known to RCMP detachments throughout the region and beyond.
Andrew William Rogers, 33, of Penhold, has been charged with 20 counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon, operation of a motor vehicle while pursued by police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, fraud over $5,000, two counts of fraud under $5,000 and driving while unauthorized.
Ryan William Litwyn, 28, of Red Deer, has been charged with 20 counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000, possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes, possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon, fraud over $5,000, two counts of fraud under $5,000, failing to comply with a probation order and two counts of resisting or obstructing a peace officer.
A trial date for both men has been set for July 20 in Red Deer.
Sylvan Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Gary Rhodes said the Feb. 3 incident serves as a reminder of the importance of collaboration among both members of the Priority Crimes Task Force and area citizens in tackling such criminal activity.
“Increasingly, criminal activity crosses jurisdictions and impacts all our neighbouring communities, and the best way to target these prolific offenders is through shared intelligence, as well as through support and tips from the public,” he said. “In this case, the original complaints from the public about dangerous driving led to the laying of a significant number of charges against two men who have been criminally active throughout the region.”
Members of the Priority Crimes Task Force come from RCMP detachments throughout the region, including Sylvan Lake, Innisfail, Red Deer GIS and Blackfalds. Additional support is provided by Lacombe Police Services. Participating members aim to share criminal intelligence and increase interagency communication to help reduce property crime in the area.