A break-and-enter suspect prowling homes in the Miworth area west of Prince George got more than he bargained for Saturday afternoon when he was caught by a RCMP police dog after trying to evade police by swimming across the Nechako River.
Miworth resident Charlie Freeman was at home working with a friend on his greenhouse at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday when he heard the voice of an RCMP officer asking him to call and contain his dogs so that officer could release a police dog that had picked up the suspect’s scent.
Police were called to the 12000 block of Miworth Road shortly before 3 p.m. when a neighbour west of Freeman’s property on Island Park Drive confronted the man in his yard attempting to steal one of the owner’s vehicles or the gas it contained. The suspect threatened the owner with a screwdriver and took off running.
The man, identified by police as 31-year-old Prince George resident Joshua Alexander Neumann, cut through a yard two doors down from Freeman’s place and told the woman who lives there that his vehicle had broken down and he asked her for directions to the city. She told him to go right at the end of her driveway, but he went the opposite way towards Freeman’s house and after cutting through several yards his disappeared down the riverbank. He walked downstream along the river and several times climbed up to the railway track, but the police were there and he ducked back down the slope to the river.
“The next thing you know, the police drone saw him swimming in the river,” said Freeman. “So he swam the river just past the big cutbanks on North Nechako Road.”
Freeman’s son Mark, also a dog handler with the RCMP, had been invited over to celebrate his dad’s 74th birthday that afternoon but had miss the family dinner when he was called in to try to nab the suspect. He was sent with his dog to the north side of the river and that dog picked up the scent again after the man climbed the steep cutbank that borders the river. But there were two other people coming down the slope at the time, which was enough to confuse the dog, which lost track of the perpetrator.
“I guess the bad guy showed up in the North Nechako subdivision and he went up to a guy’s house and asked for some assistance and the guy immediately slammed the door on him,” said Freeman. “So then the initial dog handler who went through my yard managed to catch up with him, not without some issues.
“I guess the guy is well-known to the police. I don’t know why anybody would attempt to burgle a place in the middle of a Saturday when everyone’s home.”
Police tracked Neumann to the back yard of a residence in the 9000 block of North Nechako Road and with the assistance of the police dog made the arrest.
Neumann was charged with mischief, theft under $5,000, break and enter with intent, possession of break-in instruments and failing to comply with release order.