A White Rock man who chased culprits who stole his $1,500 motorcycle helmet ended up pepper-sprayed for his efforts.
Chris Pelech, 47, told Black Press Media it all unfolded when he stopped for lunch at the Big Feast Bistro in Maple Ridge on Oct. 21, during the last motorcycle ride of the year for him and his wife.
They pulled their motorcycles into a parking spot across the street, and because they weren’t going to be far away, they left their helmets on the handlebars.
Pelech, a tugboat operator, said he was just starting his second cup of coffee when he noticed a man standing over his motorcycle.
By the time Pelech got outside, the man he had spotted was on a mountain bike, and Pelech’s helmet was gone.
On foot, Pelech chased the suspect as he pedalled away, and says he could see the man trying to hold something underneath a large jacket with a hood.
“He was trying to hide it, and pedal away,” Pelech said.
As Pelech rounded a corner, he saw a second man stuffing a “large bulbous object” that he believed to be his helmet into a backpack.
When he confronted that man, “he turned and fired pepper spray at me,” Pelech said.
“It took my breath away… dropped me to my knees, and I couldn’t see very well. If it was a $100 helmet, I would have called it a day.”
Despite assistance from two other men who joined the pursuit, the helmet – a Schuberth C3 Pro – was not recovered.
Ridge Meadows RCMP Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk confirmed police are investigating a theft and assault with a weapon.
Pelech described the first suspect as about five-foot-six to five-foot-eight, with a hunched appearance and wearing baggy clothing, including a dark plaid jacket with a hood. He described the man with the backpack as about six feet tall and slender, with a blondish, short haircut and bad teeth.
He expressed thanks to the people who got involved, and acknowledged he has to take some responsibility for leaving the helmet unsecured, but said he has been riding for a long time without incident.
“I’m 47 years old and I’m working towards a goal of 50 countries before 50. I currently sit at 49 countries to date, and a few on the list were not the safest to backpack through,” he said. “It’s shocking that this incident took place 45 minutes from where I live… all those countries, all those scary little villages in Central America in the middle of the night, arriving on the chicken bus, travelling through villages in the Transkei in South Africa, where you’re more of a food source than tourist.
“Never once was I assaulted. That happened in Maple Ridge just before brunch. Crazy.”