A Nanaimo family is ‘traumatized’ after a man broke into their home, pepper-sprayed two teenage girls and made off with electronics and other items.
According to Nanaimo RCMP, who’ve characterized the incident as a home invasion, the culprit broke into the house on the 5200 block of Lost Lake Road, in north Nanaimo, shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, March 14.
“Two teenage sisters were at home at the time when an individual, who was wearing a balaclava and was dressed in camouflage, burst into the home and hit them with bear spray,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.
The sisters “wisely” ran from the home to a nearby residence. Police officers were on scene within minutes and brought a police dog, but could not locate the suspect. RCMP say it appears the suspect entered the home through an unlocked door.
“A hockey bag was missing from the home, with its contents emptied out, which was likely used to carry away some stolen electronics,” O’Brien said.
The girls’ mother Veva Galdames said the “horrendous” attack happened at the girls’ father’s home, where the sisters were staying on their first day of spring break. Their dad had gone to work and the girls were unaware someone was in the basement stealing items before he came upstairs.
“It’s like out of a movie,” Galdames said. “We can’t even believe this happened to them. They were just sitting watching TV in the back, on the first day of spring break and, all of sudden, somebody appears in the living room and just sprays them with the bear spray.”
Galdames said the suspect walked into the room so confidently the girls first thought he was a plumber or service technician there to repair something in the house before they were attacked.
“My young one, she was the one that got it first because she was the first to be seen when he came around the corner,” Galdames said. “She went to scream and he shot her right in the mouth with the bear spray, so she couldn’t breathe. She still has that taste. She’s gagging the whole time, trying to get some air, trying to escape.”
The suspect ripped the younger girl’s laptop computer from her lap when he sprayed her and then sprayed her sister. The girls, both blinded by the bear spray, tried to hold their eyes open and escape the house.
“The young one runs across the back yard, across the lawn, and she fell. She’s in bare feet with pyjamas,” Galdames said. “She tried to grab moss to wipe her face, so she could get the rest of the way to the neighbour’s house. This is just absolutely horrendous, somebody could do this to a kid … He knew they were there. He was down in the basement for quite some time stealing and going through bags and whatever before going upstairs.”
Galdames said the suspect also took a desktop computer and a collection of vintage skateboard and snowboard stickers, among other items, and she figures he had a vehicle to quickly make off with everything.
“We’re OK. The girls had a rough sleep through the night,” Galdames said. “I didn’t sleep much … they’re with me at my house now … All the doors and windows and everything are quadruple checked now – we’re as safe as we can feel.”
Galdames said if the culprit is caught she’s going to press “as many charges as I can press against this guy” and she hopes he will be charged to the fullest extent possible.
Paramedics were called to the home after the incident and treated the girls for the lingering effects of the bear spray.
“Other than that they were fine, but very traumatized by the ordeal,” O’Brien said. “This was a very brazen incident that took place in the middle of the afternoon, which actually may assist in our investigation because someone may have seen the suspect either entering or leaving the home. We also have some really vigilant Block Watches in the area who will obviously assist police with their investigation.”
Nanaimo RCMP want to speak with any possible witness and are also requisition any dash cam or home security camera video taken between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Monday for anyone matching the description of the suspect or anyone matching the description of the suspect or vehicles that appeared out of place.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345 and quote file No. 2022-8688.