Keegan Moses, owner of Dr. Fix Computers in downtown Mission, says he was told to release two suspects – whom he had locked in his store – because Mission RCMP did not have an officer available to assist him. / Kevin Mills Photo

Mission business owner locks two suspects in store, RCMP unable to attend

Police tell him to let them out, for his own safety

A local business owner says he managed to capture two suspected thieves in his downtown Mission store, but despite calling the RCMP, no one came to help him.

In fact, he said the police told him to let the suspects go.

Keegan Moses, owner of Dr. Fix Computers on First Avenue, is frustrated, angry and a little sad about the situation.

He was enjoying a busy day on Tuesday, when a couple walked into his shop in the afternoon.

They began to browse through the store, but Moses said their actions made him suspicious almost immediately.

He said the woman grabbed some bags and started pointing to things on the shelves, saying she wanted to purchase them. One of the items was a $600 laptop, but she didn’t ask any questions about the items.

“You’re not going to spend $600 for a laptop when you don’t even know the speed or the information about it,” said Moses, adding it’s just common sense to ask basic questions.

Having fallen victim to a scam before, Moses said he was on high alert.

He waited until the woman was finished and tried to pay for close to $1,000 worth of products with a credit card.

He explained that, normally, a customer would insert the credit card into the machine and type in their security code.

He said the woman tried to type in the 13 numbers on the front of the credit card.

“She never put the card in. She pretended to put it in,” he said.

“It’s common sense. If you are punching the card manually, it means the Visa is not yours or there is something creepy about it. You would just put in your code.”

Moses went to the front door, without saying a word, and locked it from the inside. He then locked the back door and called the RCMP.

He told the woman, and the man she came in with, that they were locked in. Then he waited for officers to arrive, but no one came.

While he was waiting, the couple both tried to get out.

“She’s saying, ‘Please, let me go. I didn’t do anything’ and all of a sudden the guy who came in with her – the guy who was always talking to her – all of a sudden says, ‘I don’t know her. I knew her a long time ago. I was just saying hi.’ ”

He told them that no one was leaving until RCMP got there.

“I’m waiting and waiting and no one shows up.”

During that time, the woman made her way to the front of the store and tried to shove her bag through the open holes in the security gate.

While Moses stopped her, he said she took out her wallet, which contained the credit card, and managed to get it through one of the gaps to give it to a third person waiting outside.

“She got rid of the evidence.”

At the same time, Moses got a return call from the Mission RCMP.

“They told me, ‘You have to release them. You can’t lock them down. We don’t have an officer available.’ ”

He was stunned by the response.

“You want me to let them go? It’s crazy. We just let them go.”

As the couple walked out of his shop, Moses tried to determine what to do next.

He said he has security video, but he’s not sure there is any point in giving it to the RCMP.

“If they don’t really care from the beginning to start with, I don’t think it is a good opportunity to give them the video because there is no point.”

The next day, Wednesday, Moses was still upset because he had not been contacted nor had he spoken to a police officer.

“No one has got a hold of me. No one has asked me what’s going on. No one’s asked if I’m even safe – or not – with those kind of people around.

“No follow-up at all. It’s sad.”

Later that afternoon an officer did make contact.

While police would not comment on the specifics of the case, Mission RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford responded, in written form, regarding how calls to police are prioritized.

“Public safety is the highest priority of any call for police and it supersedes all others,” he wrote. “Each file received is compared against any other files that may be waiting police action. The file of the higher priority is dealt with first, and so on until all police resources are assigned.

“If a file of higher priority is received, and no police officers are available due to other calls, police officers will be pulled off any current call to respond to the higher risk event.”

He went on to explain that “at any given time several calls for a police response may be taking place and with each call it is prioritized based on public safety, along with the available resources in which to best deal with the call. Some calls for service have to wait until officers are free, particularly when the higher priority calls require multiple offices at a single event.

“Regarding holding a person suspected of a crime, Section 494 of the Criminal Code speaks to the circumstances of such actions. I am not going to give legal advice on Section 494 as it is not a ‘light’ matter despite how it may read – that would be best left to a criminal lawyer in my opinion.

“However, there are several serious considerations in regards to any person taking such action, and sadly that is demonstrated regularly where citizens’ efforts have resulted in their death, or significant injuries when the other person doesn’t want to be held for the police to arrive.

“Those concerns being the higher risk, such action also opens a person up to legal action if it is deemed they were not in compliance with Section 494.”

Crawford also wrote that he is willing to speak with the business owner or anyone else who may have concerns.

“If anyone is not satisfied with our actions, they are welcome to come and speak with us so that perhaps we can clear up any misunderstanding, or if we’ve not acted correctly, we can make efforts to improve.”

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