KELOWNA – Lanny Hoffmann doesn't even want his car back.
RCMP impounded the 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora after it was stolen and involved in a police chase that started in Penticton and ended on the floating bridge in Kelowna. The chase involved several detachments, a police helicopter and a dog team and shut down the William Bennett Bridge for more than an hour just after morning rush hour.
Police have refused to say why the two men were stopped in the first place, only that they were in a ‘suspicious vehicle’ and sped off before police could speak to them.
Rather than chase the men, Penticton RCMP notified other detachments and when they were spotted in West Kelowna around 10 a.m. the helicopter and dog team were called in.
The chase ended when the driver of the car, which had been stolen from Kelowna resident Lanny Hoffmann sometime prior, crashed into an RCMP cruiser that was part of a blockade on the busy bridge.
Traffic in and out of Kelowna was impacted for hours while Michael Dennison, 25, and Ryan Regan, 33, were arrested in a stolen $400 car.
Hoffmann got the news while he was on vacation in Thailand.
“My brother sent me a message on Facebook,” he says. “He said my friend went to collect my mail and my car was missing. Somebody broke into my house and stole my TV. My car was missing and they went through my closet.”
Even though he is on vacation he keeps current on Kelowna news and says he heard about the Jan. 12 incident on the bridge.
“I heard about a green car playing bumper cars on the bridge and though what are the odds? When I watched the video I recognized my car.”
Dennison is charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, driving while prohibited and breach of probation. All of his charges are alleged to have occurred in Penticton.
Regan is charged with dangerous driving, evading police, two counts of hit and run, mischief to a police vehicle and assault with a weapon.
Both remain in custody but no reason has been given for the initial stop, the involvement of the helicopter or the need to close part of the bridge, nor do the charges indicate anything unusual.
Hoffmann doubts police would go to such extreme lengths because of his car.
“I sent an email to Marios (Towing) telling them to crush the car,” he says. “It will cost more than it’s worth to get it back.”
He says he has yet to hear back from Mario’s and the police haven’t been much help either. Emails have not been returned and the two men have not been charged for breaking into his house or for stealing his property.
“I just want some information from the police,” he says. “I’m the victim here. Why is it that I’ve got to find out what happened by reading a news story?”
Despite Hoffmann's claim of police neglect, RCMP in the Okanagan appear to be taking vehicle theft very seriously. On Wednesday, Jan. 25, two people were arrested in Kelowna after plainclothes officers spotted a 90s era pickup reported stolen from a hotel in Vernon.
A media release says police waited until the truck pulled up to a gas station at Highway 33 and Dougall Road in Rutland, then called the street enforcement unit, the downtown enforcement unit, air support, a dog team and general duty officers.
They arrested Darcy William Every, 35, from the Shuswap area for a host of charges including theft of a motor vehicle and possessing a controlled substance. They also arrested a 30-year-old woman from Kamloops, who was later released. She may face charges as well, Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey says in the release.
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