Sylvan Lake RCMP had a wild night on Feb. 26 as vehicle thefts from Rocky Mountain House turned into a chase involving a semi.
Around midnight on Feb. 26 Sylvan Lake RCMP were notified of two vehicles stolen from Rocky Mountain House and were involved in a break and enter at a business in the town.
In the time it takes to drive from the west end of Rocky Mountain House to the Bentley, RCMP were called out to the Bentley Esso.
“We got an alarm call at the Bentley Esso… and the front of the store had been driven through using one of the stolen vehicles from Rocky,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Shepherd.
According to Shepherd, one of the vehicles drove right through the front window of the gas station. Many items were taken from the store, including a large quantity of cigarettes.
While responding to the break and enter at the gas station, RCMP received a call from a Bentley resident saying someone had tried to steal his truck.
“He had gone out and confronted them,” Shepherd said. “It was just a verbal altercation, no assault or anything, but then they left.”
Shepherd said the two people confronted left the man’s property, using the vehicle that had driven into the gas station.
The suspects drove south into Sylvan Lake after leaving the property in Bentley, and RCMP followed them to a business located in the Kuusamo Industrial Park area.
“We located the stolen vehicle that had been used in the Esso B and E, and followed a set of footprints into this industrial shop.
Just as we were doing that the door opened and this semi came out towards our members.”
The RCMP officers involved were able to get out of the way of the vehicle and were not harmed.
The stolen semi had a full trailer as well, and RCMP did not know what it was carrying.
“We didn’t know at the time what was in that trailer, if it was fuel or something flammable or what have you… It was a significant public risk at this point.”
According to Shepherd, the officers acted pre-emptively and laid down a spike belt to try and stop the suspects from moving further.
“So that slowed it down, but it continued towards Red Deer… It was going eastbound in the westbound lane, so the complete opposite lane of travel,” Shepherd said.
When it was clear the truck was continuing into Red Deer, officers radioed the Red Deer RCMP for help, which included RCMP Police Dog Services.
The call was made early on, according to Shepherd, to plan ahead for what could possibly happen.
Eventually, Shepherd said the suspect, identified as Jason William Ionson from Red Deer, ran out of steam and tried to run away on foot.
“But you can’t run faster than a dog.”
While RCMP gave chase to the semi, which they considered a “significant public risk,” another person had been hidden away in the industrial shop.
The second unidentified suspect stole a second semi out of the same industrial building. Later that same morning, the second stolen semi was located in Gasoline Alley by the owner of the business who contacted police.
“We have every vehicle that was stolen, the two semis and the two vehicles from Rocky have been located,” Shepherd said.
RCMP only caught one of the suspects involved in the thefts and break and enters.
Ionson has been charged with:
· Possession of stolen under $5,000
· Mischief over $5,000
· Mischief under $5,000
· Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
· Flight from police
· Resist arrest
· Operate motor vehicle while disqualified
· Fail to comply with recognizance
· Two counts of Break and Enter
“He is a very prolific repeat offender from the Central Alberta area,” said Shepherd.
Ionson was wanted on several outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest from other detachments across Central Alberta.
Following a judicial hearing, Ionson was remanded to custody and is scheduled to appear in Red Deer Provincial Court on March 5.
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