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Crime spree spans View Royal, Sooke, Ucluelet, Port Alberni

A man was arrested Friday after an ambulance stolen from Ucluelet was found abandoned west of Port Alberni.

A crime spree that spanned View Royal and Sooke to Ucluelet and Port Alberni and included stolen firearms and an ambulance support vehicle ended over the weekend as RCMP called in its emergency response team, police dogs and a helicopter to locate the suspect.

The man, who was considered armed and dangerous after firearm thefts at a residence in Sooke, is being held in custody awaiting a bail hearing for multiple charges from communities across the South Island.

On Friday, Port Alberni RCMP received several calls of a suspicious man driving a B.C. Ambulance Service support vehicle west of the city.

The B.C. Ambulance Service confirmed the vehicle was stolen Thursday in Ucluelet, and further information gathered by police indicated the man responsible may have stolen weapons during a break-and-enter the day before near Sooke.

The vehicle was found abandoned west of Port Alberni and assistance was requested from the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team, K9 services and Air 8 due to the potential of the suspect having weapons, said RCMP. However, prior to the arrival of the specialized force, general duty officers located and arrested the suspect.

“We truly appreciate the concern and vigilance of the public and the assistance from the Emergency Response Team, Police Dog Services and air support,” Const. Richard Johns said in a statement. “Citizens reporting the suspicious activity were instrumental in ending this man’s crime spree.”

The same man was sought by police at West Shore and Sooke detachments on July 19.

He was initially reported by witnesses at Admirals and Craigflower roads in View Royal to be in possession of a stolen older model van.

The next day, the stolen vehicle and suspect were involved in several RCMP investigations in the Sooke area, including uttering threats and multiple residential break-and-enters. One of the break-and-enter investigations involved the theft of a firearm.

That evening, the RCMP located the vehicle and made several attempts to stop it between Sooke and Ladysmith, but the vehicle failed to stop.

RCMP alerted the public that the suspect or anyone associated with the vehicle may be armed and dangerous,” RCMP said.

dkloster@timescolonist.com