PENTICTON - A Penticton man who helped fuel his cocaine habit through a series of purse thefts received more than a year behind bars after sentencing this morning.
Richard James Meier entered guilty pleas to charges of possession and use of a stolen credit card and fraud under $5,000 among other charges in Penticton court today, May 1.
Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerechs told court police were called to a Summerland address after a resident reported her car was broken into and her purse stolen on May 19, 2016.
Transactions made using the woman’s credit cards at Summerland’s Shell gas station and Pharmasave Drug Store were viewed on the business’s video security, and Penticton RCMP were able to identify the person using the cards as Meier.
On July 8, 2016, a police officer spotted Meier rummaging around the back of a Summerland coffee shop.
Meier gave the officer a false name before trying to run away. He was caught and arrested and transported to the RCMP detachment’s jail cells, but on the way managed to wrap the seat belt around his neck, while still in handcuffs.
He was taken to the hospital after going unconscious, where, after coming to, he admitted ingesting heroin earlier in the day.
He was released by police into the care of the psychiatric ward, where he was able to escape.
A warrant was issued for his arrest.
On July 28, an employee of The Pasta Factory in Penticton reported the theft of her purse from the restaurant’s staff room.
The tap function of her credit card was used at Penticton Mohawk, Penticton PetroCan and Penticton Co-op gas bars.
Police were once again able to identify Meier through video surveillance from those businesses.
On Aug. 10, police on patrols in Penticton spotted Meier on a bicycle near the Chevron Station on Eckhardt Avenue. With a warrant out for his arrest, police attempted to apprehend him, but he pedalled away, only to crash his bike in an alleyway.
He got up and continued to flee, but left several items from his person, including credit cards, client cards and a pre-paid debit Mastercard that did not belong to him.
Police were unable to locate Meier until later in the day, when he was arrested and jailed until Sept. 7, when he was released on an undertaking.
On Sept. 22, police were called to the Casa Ouzeria Restaurant where a woman reported her purse stolen from the restaurant’s kitchen.
The purse was located at a TD Bank in Penticton, short $250 in cash as well as a pair of gold earrings.
Kitchen video surveillance revealed Meier as the man taking the purse.
Lerechs also handed Judge Gregory Koturbash two victim impact statements where the victims noted the increased anxiety and inconvenience created as a result of Meier’s actions.
She said Meier also had three prior robbery convictions, one break and enter and three theft or possession charges.
She asked Judge Koturbash to accept a joint recommendation for a sentence of 14 months imprisonment and two years’ probation.
Defence lawyer Michael Patterson said his client took full responsibility for his actions and had completely turned his life around while incarcerated.
He said Meier, who turned to crime to fuel chronic heroin use, turned to the Christian faith after realizing he needed to deal with his drug problem.
Patterson said his client had no interest in returning to the Penticton area after his release, noting also none of Meier’s crimes involved violent acts.
Meier apologized to his victims, admitting to causing fear and inconvenience as his victims had to cancel credit cards and apply for new identification papers.
“I just want to change my ways,” he said, adding he hadn’t seen his kids since renewing his addictions two years ago.
“The community of Penticton is really getting sick and tired of people dealing with their addiction by crime,” said Judge Koturbash, noting property crime had become a big issue in the city and the justice system was trying to deal with it.
The judge agreed to the joint submission from both counsel. With enhanced time served of 374 days, Meier has 43 days left to serve, followed by two years’ probation.
He’ll also have to pay $350.39 in restitution.
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