Wanted man from Penticton accused of setting off explosives has lengthy criminal history | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Wanted man from Penticton accused of setting off explosives has lengthy criminal history

Penticton RCMP have issued a warrant for the arrest of Blair Robert Balch.
Image Credit: Submitted/Penticton RCMP

The prolific offender from Penticton accused of setting off a series of explosions in March has had a warrant out for his arrest since the beginning of November, and this isn’t the first time he’s been on the lam.

On Nov. 15 RCMP released Blair Balch's mugshot and announced that he's a wanted to face charges of possessing an explosive device and mischief.

The charges are in relation to a number of explosions that happened in various locations throughout Penticton in March 2021, believed to be improvised explosive devices. Later in the month, the RCMP said officers identified the person responsible – a 50-year-old man, though they did not name him. 

“He was subsequently arrested, and later released after voluntarily speaking with officers. The man confirmed he meant no harm to the community,” Penticton RCMP spokesperson Const. James Grandy said in the release. “Charges are being considered and may be forwarded to the B.C. Prosecution Service for their consideration.”

Although Balch, who was born in 1971, was not specifically identified as the 50-year old suspect responsible, his name can be found attached to dozens of other charges over the past two decades – 46 files appear on a search for his B.C. court records. He also goes by the alias Steve Thompson.

READ MORE: Kelowna man injured in 2018 drug house explosion caught on boat with 552 kgs of cocaine

Many of them were administrative charges such as being unlawfully at large. He also has had several charges of theft under $5,000 and convictions for drugs, including trafficking. He's also faced charges of robbery and assault. 

READ MORE: Penticton's 5% rise in crime largely shoplifting, mischief: RCMP

It appears he had a lengthy break from the law between July 2014 until this year – at least in B.C.

The explosions he’s accused of being responsible for happened in March 2021. During the past seven years, the only other time he was charged in the province was one month prior to the explosions in February 2021 when he was allegedly caught with driving while prohibited/licence suspended. He was charged with the same thing in August 2013.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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