RCMP arrested a man in north Nanaimo who wound up empty-handed after allegedly failing at shoplifting, bank robbery and robbery at ATM machine. (File photo)

RCMP arrested a man in north Nanaimo who wound up empty-handed after allegedly failing at shoplifting, bank robbery and robbery at ATM machine. (File photo)

Man arrested in Nanaimo after failed attempts at bank robbery, ATM mugging, shoplifting

RCMP arrest suspect in office-supply store after ‘short-lived crime spree’

A suspect failed at attempts to rob a credit union and then mug a senior on the way out, and was promptly arrested.

A 34-year-old man is in custody after a botched crime spree yesterday, according to a Nanaimo RCMP press release. The incidents occurred at about 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, in the area of Woodgrove Centre and Metral Plaza along Aulds Road.

Police were initially called to a report of shoplifting from Sport Chek. In that incident, the accused allegedly stole clothing and was last seen running from the store into the mall parking lot with the items. In the parking lot, he was seen using a rock to try to remove security tags from the stolen clothes, but “wasn’t successful in doing so.”

RCMP say the suspect then “decided upon robbing the nearest bank,” Coast Capital Savings credit union across the street, and allegedly demanded money from a clerk, “but at the last second he couldn’t go through with it and left empty-handed.” Before exiting the credit union, he allegedly tried to take money from a senior using the ATM, but “the gentleman had no intentions of handing over his cash, so, once again, the suspect left empty-handed.” Police say no weapon was produced in either incident, but threats were made.

The suspect was arrested inside the nearby Staples store moments later.

“Mere seconds after entering the business, responding Mounties had him in handcuffs and under arrest for his short-lived crime spree,” the press release noted.

Jim Pearce, 75, was the person using the ATM at the time of the crimes, and said he overheard the suspect talking about needing the money to buy drugs for someone and also feed his family.

Pearce alleged that he was assaulted as the suspect was being escorted out of the building by the credit union’s branch manager and tellers.

“I turned around and I had my wallet in my left hand and $300 cash in my right hand, I was just putting it in the wallet, and all of a sudden I’m face-to-face with this guy…” Pearce said. “I’m trying to process this and then, all of a sudden with no warning, bang, he slams his hand down and hits my wrist and grabs the money.”

Pearce reacted out of instinct and grabbed his money back out of the suspect’s hand.

“I said, ‘stop’ and he looks at me and I said ‘you get out of here, right now. Go.’”

Pearce said he was traumatized by the incident and couldn’t sleep all night because he kept thinking about it.

He initially turned down a suggestion to be checked out at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, but went the following day to have his wrist X-rayed because it had become quite painful from the blow. He said his wrist was bruised but not broken.

William Joseph Lesieur was expected to appear in provincial court Wednesday, May 12, to face two counts of robbery and one count of theft under $5,000.

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