AN accused thief may have snatched roughly $9,000 worth of goods from a parked vehicle Jan. 21, but was in cuffs just five hours later after North Vancouver RCMP caught up with him in a high-profile takedown.
Police say the man broke into a parked vehicle on West 15th Street around 7: 30 p.m., stealing a purse, wallet, expensive jewelry, house and car keys and credit cards.
Police got onto the suspect's trail after he used the victim's credit cards at two nearby gas stations less than an hour later.
After reviewing security footage at the gas stations and identifying the man and his vehicle, Mounties fanned out around the area. Shortly after midnight, a Keith Road resident alerted RCMP to a suspicious vehicle parked nearby matching the description of one police were looking for.
Several cars descended on the area to make the arrest. "The suspect was arrested with numerous pieces of stolen property in his possession," said Cpl. Richard De Jong, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman. "Police are speculating that with the culprit having the victim's house key and another car key, further criminal activity was intended."
The arrest was an unnerving spectacle in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood, according to one witness who lives near the scene.
"All of a sudden I hear 'Show me your hands. I will shoot you.' and I was like, what is going on?" said Farhan Mohamed.
Mohamed ran to the window and saw five or six RCMP cruisers, with officers yelling at a man and a woman in a parked car, guns and Tasers drawn.
"That was really freaky to see that happening so close to home," Mohamed said.
Eventually the suspect got out of the car and onto the ground where police detained him.
Charged in the case is 42-year-old Surrey resident Nicholas Mazzone, who faces one count of theft over $5,000, two counts of possession/use of a stolen credit card, two counts of possession of stolen property, mischief and possession of break and enter tools.
The heavy police response was out of an abundance of caution based on the information the arresting officers had, De Jong said.
"Direct orders are given for officer safety and public safety and the suspect's safety," he said "In this day and age when we know criminals carry guns, sidearms, weapons of all sorts, officer safety is paramount."
Arresting officers have discretion as to when they should draw their firearms.
While theft from auto has been the property crime of choice for thieves in recent years, the North Shore isn't experiencing a noticeable spike in vehicle break-ins, De Jong said. The case underscores why it is important to make sure valuables, garage door openers and keys are never left in parked cars, De Jong added.