VERNON - Kevin Barkhouse says his luck turned from bad to good after he noticed his stolen jacket being worn by a suspected thief just a few hours after he noticed it taken.
Barkhouse realized Monday morning, Dec. 19, the jacket, as well as his wallet and gloves, were stolen from his truck sometime the night before. At a friend’s suggestion, he decided to drive downtown Vernon with his brother and check for the stolen items at local pawn shops.
Around 11 a.m., just a couple of hours after discovering the theft, Barkhouse noticed a pair of men standing at a pay phone on 27 Street, one of them wearing a black coat with white zippers.
“I instantly thought, ‘that’s my coat’ but I didn’t know for sure,” Barkhouse says.
He pulled around, got out of his car, and approached the men.
“I asked him where he got his coat. He says Value Village,” Barkhouse says. “I said ‘my truck just got broken into and this exact coat got stolen.’”
Still not 100 per cent sure if the coat was his, Barkhouse then asked the men if they would empty out their bags.
“They were pulling out hoodies and shirts from the top, but there was a bunch of small stuff at the bottom they weren’t emptying out,” Barkhouse says. “So I reached inside the bag and the first thing I pulled out was my wallet. I instantly knew.”
One of them immediately fled, Barkhouse says, while the man wearing the jacket began to back away.
“I grabbed him, took him down to the ground and tousled around for about 10 seconds,” Barkhouse, a trained MMA fighter, says.
His brother attempted to pursue the other man, but was unable to catch him, Barkhouse says. His brother then went into a nearby store and asked them to call 911.
Still restraining the suspect, Barkhouse took a moment to snap a selfie.
“I thought a selfie was completely in order, I was like ‘I need to take one.’ It was only to send to my friends, and then I thought, ‘I should post this on the Vernon Rant and Rave.’ Because every day there are posts about people’s cars getting broken into.”
He says police arrived shortly after and arrested the man. In a media release issued today, Dec. 20, police say they are recommending charges of possession of property obtained by crime and possession of break in instruments against the 25-year-old man.
Barkhouse says neither he, nor the suspect, were hurt as a result of the incident, although he does understand he put himself at risk by taking things into his own hands.
“I’m lucky nothing happened to me,” he says. “But I was real careful. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody, I was just trying to get my stuff back and get this guy out of here because I’m sick of this stuff happening. I hate seeing it on the Internet every day about people’s cars and garages getting broken into. It makes me sick because we work hard for our stuff. I feel like if I didn’t do that he wouldn’t be charged and he’d have been out last night doing exactly the same thing.”
Const. Jocelyn Noseworthy, with the Vernon RCMP, says Barkhouse was within his rights to detain the suspect and use as much force as was reasonably necessary. However, while things worked out in this case, she advises against taking the law into your own hands.
“We don’t recommend it because you never know who you’re dealing with,” Noseworthy says.
She says there have been cases before where individuals were injured during similar confrontations.
Noseworthy recommends keeping an eye on the suspect until police arrive.
Barkhouse admits he was lucky to have run into the suspect mere hours after discovering the break-in, and to have things work out the way they did. But it’s not the first time his bad luck has turned to good. About three months ago, Barkhouse’s license plate was stolen.
“The next day, I see a cube truck in front of me. I look at the license plate and I’m like ‘oh my god, that’s mine,’” Barkhouse says.
He phoned the police and followed the truck for about half an hour until it pulled into a residence not far from his own. Police arrived around the same time and arrested him, Barkhouse says.
“I seem to have these things happening to me,” he says.
He’s not alone. Property-related crime, including thefts from vehicles and break and enters, spiked over the summer, up nearly nine per cent compared to 2015.
The 25-year-old suspect is due to appear in Vernon Provincial Court today.
— This story was updated at 10:38 a.m. Dec. 20, 2016, to change the main photo and again at 12:30 p.m. to add comments from Kevin Barkhouse.
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