Visiting Reservist RCMP Officer Robert Gaetz found a little adventure on a recent trip to Morinville when he help apprehend a crime suspect.
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A man and woman have been charged with 54 property crimes after police responded to a complaint of a break-in in progress Apr. 28. Police say Jason MacAloney and Diana Barrett were subsequently arrested in possession of stolen property, including wallets, ID cards and vehicle accessories. Police have identified stolen property from at least 27 individuals
Police say one of the duo was also arrested on 56 property crimes and related outstanding warrants from the Edmonton area.
The accused were both remanded in custody and made their first court appearance in Morinville Court May 1.
Reserve RCMP officer assists local police with apprehension
Robert Gaetz, a retired RCMP officer from Whitehorse, currently serving as a reservist, was visiting his brother in Morinville and wound up alerting police to the crime in progress.
Gaetz said he was awoken early Apr 28 by his brother who told him his son’s car had been stolen over night. Initially Gaetz thought someone had taken the car for a joyride and possibly left it nearby. “I decided to drive around and see what I could find,” Gaetz said, adding he drove from his brother’s home near the curling rink throughout town looking for the vehicle. “I came down this little cul de sac and said, ‘Holy smokes, that looks like Steve’s car right there,” Gaetz said, adding he found the car parked on the wrong side of the road, a metre off the curb with the headlights on. “The lights were on, the car was idling. I pulled in alongside the car, hopped out of the truck and went in the passenger side. There was what looked like a big bundle of clothes sitting on the driver’s seat.”
Gaetz said he opened the glove box and found his nephew’s registration, confirming the vehicle was the one he was looking for. That’s when Gaetz got a bit of a surprise. “Whiel I’m doing this, this bundle of clothes on the driver’s seat moves,” he recalled. “Immediately when i realized it was a person, I grabbed the key out of the ignition, effectively disabling the car.” Gaetz said under the clothing was a woman curled up in the fetal position sleeping. “She starts getting out of the driver’s door and I went around the other side, grabbed her and said, ‘You are under arrest. I”m calling 911.” Gaetz said he stayed with the woman until police showed up. “He basically made the arrest,” Gaetz said of the officer who responded to his call Monday morning, adding he then went to the station to make a statement.
Public urged to be vigilant
Gaetz said he got lucky in helping Morinville RCMP apprehend a suspect, but said the public have a role to play in apprehending criminals. “Robert Peel – when he invented the first police department in England – it was never meant to be a stand alone organization,” Gaetz said. “It was meant to be supplementary to the citizens looking after themselves. A police department works better when the citizens become involved a bit. He encourages residents to phone the police when they see suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.
“People always seem to think the police aren’t going to be able to do anything, and quite frankly a lot of times they may not be able to,” Gaetz said. “But the way these cases are always broken open is sooner or later somebody gets caught. One thing leads to another and the investigation pulls down a whole bunch of different thefts. If the police don’t have the information that a particular thing was stolen they won’t be able to link it up to the owner.”
It is a situation the veteran police officer has seen wherever he has served – police finding a variety of items when a suspect is arrested, much of it unaccounted for because the stolen items were never reported to the police. “It’s just people not taking the 15 minutes it takes to phone the police,” he said.
Gaetz also encourages people to lock their cars and their homes. “I lock everything,” he said. “I lock my house when I’m gone. I never leave my garage door open. You have to look after your own property. You have to look after yourself. This goes right back to the police work better when the community is involved, even if it is nothing more than locking your doors.”