Police said a would-be thief nearly severed his arm in a botched robbery at a Nanaimo gas station over the weekend.

Mounties were called to a Petro-Canada gas station on Terminal Avenue at around 5:40 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release.

Employees at the business called 911 to report that a man entered the gas station, pushed past an employee to grab a till and then made a break for the door.

But the man appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and police say he ran right into the glass door as he tried to escape.

He then threw the till at the door and punched at it, then walked outside and punched garage bay doors causing a window to shatter, according to police.

The broken glass cut deep into his arm and nearly severed it, prompting three bystanders to assist him by improvising a tourniquet from a bungee cord and applying pressure to the wound.

"Officers arrived minutes later and reapplied a police-issued tourniquet," Nanaimo RCMP said. "BC Paramedics then arrived and transported the injured male to local hospital where he is expected to remain for an unknown period of time."

Police recovered the stolen till in the parking lot.

They say if it weren't for the quick response of the bystanders and 911 call from the staff, the man may have died from his injuries.

The three individuals will be formally recognized by police for their heroism, said Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Const. Gary O'Brien.

The man faces charges of robbery and mischief.