A 20-year-old man is facing charges including theft after vodka was taken from a White Rock liquor store last week.
Police arrested the suspect near Best Street and North Bluff Road just before midnight Oct. 5, after the store owner himself chased him down.
And while the chase ended without incident, Const. Janelle Shoihet said it’s a course of action police advise against.
“We certainly don’t encourage the general public to take action like that,” Shoihet said, citing the risk to personal safety.
Looking back, Sandpiper Liquor Store owner Bill Lawrence said he recognizes the pursuit could have resulted in trouble.
But he doesn’t regret doing it.
“I work hard and our staff works hard to provide a service, and when somebody comes in that doesn’t pay for that service, it’s money out of my pocket,” Lawrence said Tuesday. “I said, I gotta take the bull by the horns on this one.”
Lawrence, who also owns the Sandpiper Pub on Marine Drive, said he was alerted to trouble late Oct. 5, when staff reported that a man had made off with two bottles of vodka and a case of beer from his Johnston Road store.
After reviewing footage captured by the store’s security cameras, Lawrence decided to take a drive around town, on the off-chance he might spot the culprit.
He said he soon saw a man who matched the description walking east on North Bluff Road.
Lawrence parked on Merklin Street and, when the man headed in his direction, he got out of his car and confronted him.
“I told him, ‘I think you have a couple things you took from my liquor store without paying,'” Lawrence said.
The man first denied the accusation, then took off – walking, then running along North Bluff, Lawrence said.
The store owner gave chase until the man seemingly gave up, then he held him until police arrived.
Shoihet said a better tact for citizens who spot crime suspects is to maintain a safe distance and convey the details and location to police.
While Lawrence said the pursuit may have been a foolish move – given that he only had a “strong assumption” that the man didn’t have a weapon – it was worth the effort.
“At least, hopefully that particular individual will be taken off the street… and hopefully having a lesson (that) it’s not good to be doing what he’s doing,” he said.
“Definitely something that had to be done about it. We can’t just let this thing go without some level of punishment or consequence.”
Lawrence praised the value of security cameras. He noted officers who reviewed footage of a theft a week earlier were able to arrest suspects on the same night, too.
Dillon Patrick Rawlinson is charged with theft under $5,000 and two counts of breaching probation in connection with the Oct. 5 incident. He was released from custody Tuesday, with conditions including not to be in or on the property of any liquor store in B.C.
Rawlinson is due back in Surrey Provincial Court on Oct. 17.