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Customers thwart alleged shoplifter at Campbell River Walmart

A Vancouver Island senior is being hailed for her bravery after a video was posted online showing her de-masking an alleged thief at a Walmart in Campbell River, B.C.

The incident happened Saturday afternoon around 12:45. Darrell Johansen, the person who posted the cellphone video, noticed a man attempting to leave the store with what Johansen believed was a shopping cart full of unpaid merchandise.

Johansen was asking the individual if he was going to pay for the merchandise when an elderly woman grabbed the balaclava the man was wearing and unmasked him. The two then prevented the man from leaving with the shopping cart.

“I was utterly shocked,” Johansen says. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh no, I hope he doesn’t do anything to this woman because she’s in the way and he’s got a bike in one hand and a shopping cart in the other. She just jumped in, and man, I don’t know if she’s got kids, but I pretty much guarantee those kids grew up to be good young lads and girls.”

Johansen had followed the man in the store for a short period of time believing he was about to witness a crime. The Walmart location has been the scene of numerous incidents in the past in which people have left with full carts without paying.

“It’s epidemic up here. I got about four steps into the store and I spot the guy right away. Something just said, ‘This guy’s gonna go,’” he says.

Campbell River’s Walmart is the same big-box store where a security guard was injured Dec. 7, 2021 while dealing with a person who had been banned from the store. A man stabbed the guard and then stole a shopping cart full of electronics before fleeing the store. He was later arrested.

While following the suspected thief on Saturday, Johansen says he noticed several Walmart employees observing the individual.

“He wasn’t going quick enough to raise suspicion, but as he was walking I saw several Walmart employees look at him with that knowing look that, ‘Here’s another one,’ but they’re under strict instructions not to intercede and get involved,” Johansen says.

Because the suspect had the shopping cart in one hand and a bicycle in the other, Johansen says he wasn’t too concerned about his own safety, but he was concerned about the woman’s.

“I was a little concerned about that woman, but boy oh boy, I wouldn’t want to be on her bad side,” Johansen says.

Filled with adrenaline, Johansen returned the shopping cart filled with garbage bags and a large assortment of meat to Walmart staff, then notified RCMP of the incident.

Constable Maury Tyre of Campbell River RCMP says police would like to commend the brave intentions of the individuals, but can’t recommend them as a regular course of action.

“While we understand the level of frustration that the honest people in our community are experiencing when they see people so blatantly taking advantages of businesses in town, citizens need to be aware that there can be significant safety and liability risks involved when you take matters into your own hands,” Tyre says. Top Stories

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