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The Prince George RCMP's quick recovery of almost $50,000 in stolen cash has left the money's owner expressing gratitude not only to the local police but to the community as a whole.
"When I look back at the whole thing, I had one or two bad guys do something really awful to our family and I feel like we had an entire city helping us," said the man, an American citizen who asked that his name not be used.
The man and his family were relocating from Juneau, Alaska to Boise, Idaho when they stopped for the night in Prince George last Thursday.
They were driving a large pickup truck with an all-terrain vehicle in the box and pulling a trailer full of possessions when they checked into the Ramada downtown. But because the truck was too tall for the hotel's underground parking, it was parked near the corner of Fifth and George.
Noting the lack of buildings in the area, he had an uneasy feeling. He locked the vehicle up but he decided against taking the money into the hotel with him, reasoning that hiding it away in a compartment in the cab was good enough.
"It seem kind of dumb to leave money in a truck now but at the time I wasn't going to carry it around was sort of my thinking," he said.
The next morning, the family woke up went outside and found the truck's back window smashed out. And when he looked inside, he found the cash, as well as the family's passports, were gone.
"I was just like 'oh, my god, we're screwed," he said. "I mean, that was our nest egg, that was our moving money, that was our setup money."
A parking attendant who had just come on shift gave them some phone numbers to contact the city and a tow truck. She also asked if they wanted to call the police and at first he wasn't so sure it would even be worth the bother.
"When you're talking about retrieving something like a stolen car, you have a chance to find it, but when it comes to cash, it's really hard to believe that anybody's going to find it," he said.
But when he told police how much cash was involved, members of the Prince George RCMP's crime reduction team were soon on the scene. A couple of hours later, RCMP called him to say they got video footage from a security camera that showed some cabs dropping off a few people.
However, he remained less than hopeful.
"Every time I thought about the money, I got nauseous," he said.
The family took the truck to a local dealership for repairs and booked a room for another night in Prince George with the sole thought of getting out of the city as soon as possible.
Then, at about 9 p.m. they got a call from the RCMP who told them nearly all of the money had been recovered and a suspect had been arrested although another man may also have been involved. A search of the suspect's room uncovered $44,000 and a further $1,150 was found in a garbage bin at the motel, police said this week.
"The fact that somebody cared enough to follow it up was probably the biggest thing," he said. "I kind of figured it would end up in a file and that would be the end of it, and these guys spent the day following up all the leads."
He said the money was savings accumulated over 20 years after he lost a significant amount of savings in his 401K - the U.S. equivalent of a registered retired savings plan.
"I don't normally carry cash around with me," he said. "I just happened to be carrying it with me with the move and I had to get it from point A to point B."
He made a point of mentioning Prince George RCMP Constables Rob Lamont, Rob Rattray and Ryan Arnold as the officers who were instrumental in finding the cash. He also said others were helpful in terms of providing phone numbers and getting him in contact with the U.S. consulate to get the documentation to get across the border.
"All these people who had no interest in us sort of came to our rescue," he said.
The money is now safely deposited in a bank, he said.