Man smashed a window, stole a wallet, got chased down, pepper-sprayed the victim: Richmond RCMP
Police officers are seen in this file photo.
VANCOUVER -- Police in Richmond, B.C., are reminding the public not to approach suspects after a pepper-spraying incident in the Metro Vancouver city over the weekend.
The incident Mounties relayed happened on Saturday.
Mounties were told a man was seen smashing a car window, then stealing a wallet from inside.
The alleged thief was confronted, the RCMP said in a release Tuesday, and ran away from the scene.
The owner of the vehicle followed the suspect while a friend called 911. As Richmond RCMP headed to the area, the victim caught up with the suspect, police were told.
"The vehicle owner said he initially thought that the male would perhaps return his wallet, however, as he got near the suspect, he was allegedly pepper sprayed," the RCMP said.
"Despite this, the vehicle owner continued to follow the suspect in the hopes of retrieving his wallet."
The suspect managed to evade the car owner, but was found hiding in some nearby bushes with help from a police dog, the RCMP said.
The man was arrested and remains in police custody.
Coleton Szalay, who was previously known to police, has been charged with assault with a weapon over the pepper spraying allegation.
He has also been charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and theft under $5,000.
Mounties say they seized a wallet and a can of bear spray at the scene.
In the RCMP's statement, Cpl. Adriana Peralta said police understood the victim's response, but warned that the case is an example of the dangers of following a suspect.
"Fortunately, the victim wasn't injured, but we want to remind the public that if they witness a crime to keep a safe distance, provide updates of the individual's whereabouts to police, and let the police be the ones to make an approach," Peralta said.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone who witnessed the incident or has more information is asked to contact the RCMP.