RCMP are investigating a link between the arrest of two men in Grand Forks and a vehicle break-in crime spree along several highways in the Kootenays.
“They are looking at the possibility they may be connected,” said an RCMP spokesman, without providing further information.
And Nelson Police Sgt. Brian Weber said police here want to speak to one of the suspects in custody in Grand Forks about a truck stolen from Nelson on Jan. 15.
Two men were arrested Monday after an attempted mailbox theft in Christina Lake. Police recovered a stolen 2014 Dodge pickup and “extensive amounts” of stolen property. One of the suspects had an active warrant for his arrest out of Cranbrook.
The arrests came after Salmo RCMP announced they were investigating a series of break-in and thefts from vehicles parked in remote lots along the corridor between Nelson, Salmo, Castlegar and Trail.
“It has spiked in the past couple of weeks,” said Const. Mike Robinson with the Salmo RCMP.
“It’s been the same M.O. in all of the incidents. Vehicles at rest stops or parking lots are being broken into and property is being taken.”
Robinson said police have seen about half-a-dozen incidents in the past two weeks.
“It’s been happening all along the corridor,” said Robinson, stating there have been incidents reported along Highway 6 from Nelson to Salmo and also along Highway 3 to Castlegar and Highway 22 to Trail.”
A group of backcountry skiers victimized last week at the Bonnington Traverse parking lot, 25 km south of Nelson next to Highway 6, said they had more than $3,000 worth of gear and equipment stolen when their vehicle was broken into.
“We will no longer be leaving our vehicles in that parking lot,” said James Caldwell, after he had about $2,000 of his gear taken when his friend, Jason Dew’s RAM truck, was broken into.
“Jason lost about $1,000 worth of stuff plus his truck window was smashed,” said Caldwell, saying the backcountry skiers have been forced to find other ways to get to the Bonnington lot.
“We’ll get someone to drop us off — unless something changes up there,” he said.
Caldwell, 33, said the skiers discovered the theft at about noon on Jan. 17 when they returned to check on their three vehicles and found the front passenger window of Dew’s truck had been smashed. The skiers had parked the vehicles at about 3 p.m. on Jan. 16 to travel by snowmobile to their rented backcountry ski hut 10 km away.
“It’s kind of crazy. Apparently, it’s been happening for awhile,” said Caldwell, who is now missing a maroon-coloured 60-litre hiking backpack, a GoPro camera, an iPod, snowboarding gear including goggles and gloves, a Hot Core sleeping bag and a Thermarest sleeping pad.
It isn’t known if the arrests of the suspects in Grand Forks is linked to thefts from mailboxes near Nelson earlier this month.