Mounties mobilized to find hooky-playing brothers

Two brothers who didn’t show up for school triggered an investigation  that tied up police for several hours Thursday.

Police were alerted by the boys’ father shortly after 9 a.m. after he received a call they had not turned up at Rutherford Elementary School for classes.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the boys, seven and nine, regularly walked to school.

Because it was out of character for them to not show up for classes. Mounties pulled in their school liaison officers and several other members to start the search, which involved backtracking the boys’ route from their home on Ventura Drive.

“We searched the house thoroughly, that’s the first thing, because kids are often hiding in the house,” O’Brien said. “Then we just extended our search.”

Police checked properties around the neighbourhood, canvassed neighbours, searched the school grounds, checked with other relatives, investigated the family’s history and any family issues.

“No, there were no issues,” O’Brien said. “Then we talked to a person who said he saw the kids walking across the intersection towards Rutherford at 8:25, so we thought, ‘This isn’t good.’”

Given the possibility the boys could have been abducted, police started checking B.C. Ferries, taxis and public transit.

“We were trying to get any information we could get and we’re just pulling our hair,” O’Brien said.

The boys were found about 1 p.m. by Const. Andrew Allen who was still on the scene with his police service dog when he happened to come across them in some bushes.

“They were playing fort,” O’Brien said. “They thought it was a big joke. Their dad doesn’t think it’s a joke and he’s going to have a sit-down discussion with them. I don’t know if they knew the police were searching for them or not.”

In all, seven police officers were tied up for almost five hours tracking the boys down, but O’Brien said police can’t take any chances these days.

“In this day and age the panic buttons are pushed pretty quick,” O’Brien said. “We just don’t have that benefit of the doubt where we can say, ‘Oh, you know what, they’ll show up.’ We can’t do that anymore.”

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