A 79-year-old Nanaimo woman had her purse and cellphone taken, but she fought back against a home invader and refuses to leave her home she has lived in for more than 50 years.
According to police, the incident unfolded at about 8 p.m. Monday when the woman, who lives on Winchester Avenue, came face-to-face with a masked intruder in her house.
“How this happened is she stepped out momentarily to close her gate outside her house and when she came back in there he was,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “He had a balaclava on, covering his face. He shoved her into a nearby bedroom. She fell on the bed. She got up and she pushed back and he shoved her again and she got up and shoved him again.”
During the struggle the intruder repeatedly screamed that he wanted her purse and cell phone. The woman refused to hand over anything and when she saw her opening she ran out the door and to her neighbours who called 911.
Police, including police dog services, were on scene within about four minutes, but were unable to track down the intruder.
“You can cover a long distance in about four minutes, especially if you’re on a bike or on adrenaline or have a car nearby,” O’Brien said.
The woman suffered bumps and bruises in the struggle and was offered alternative accommodations with friends and family, but she refuses to leave her home.
This was the second theft from her home in three days. The woman had also reported a theft from her home on Saturday morning at about 8 a.m. after she discovered her wedding rings – her husband is deceased – were missing from her jewelry box along with some cash and her debit card.
“Then we have this second incident, so it’s appearing that … if we can connect the dots – we haven’t at this point – but if they are connected it’s quite troubling because that means she would have been targeted, but we don’t know,” O’Brien said.
Police are working with forensic evidence and other investigative methods to track down the suspect, described as Caucasian, 5-foot-5 with a slim build. He was wearing dark clothing.
O’Brien said this kind of crime is rare in Nanaimo, which has targeted home invasions that are often carried out by criminals targeting people who are also involved in criminal activity.
“But in this case this is just a sweet lady who has lived there for 50-plus years,” he said.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, text 274637, keyword Nanaimo or submit a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.