Alleged thief pepper sprays victim when approached in Richmond

AT approximately 2:14 p.m. on May 2, Richmond RCMP were called after a male was allegedly observed smashing the window of a vehicle and stealing a wallet from inside. When the male was confronted, he proceeded to run away. The vehicle’s owner followed while his friend dialed 9-1-1.

The friend provided a brief description of the male suspect, as well as the direction he had run in. Richmond RCMP frontline officers quickly flooded the area and located the owner of the vehicle, while simultaneously setting up quadrants.

The vehicle owner told police that as he followed the suspect, the male had slowed down. He said he initially thought that the male would perhaps return his wallet; however, as he got near the suspect, he was allegedly pepper sprayed. Despite this, the vehicle owner continued to follow the suspect in the hopes of retrieving his wallet.

The suspect managed to evade the victim, but with the assistance of a police service dog, he was located hiding in some bushes.

The male was arrested and held in custody. Coleton Szalay, who is known to police, has now been charged with assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and theft under $5,000.

“We understand that the victim wanted to retrieve his wallet, but trying to approach a suspect can be dangerous,’ said Cpl. Adriana Peralta. “In this case the male was allegedly armed with pepper spray. Fortunately, the victim wasn’t injured. But we want to remind the public that if they witness a crime to keep a safe distance, provide updates of the individual’s whereabouts to police, and let the police be the ones to make an approach.”

Richmond RCMP recovered the victim’s wallet and seized a can of bear spray.

Anyone who may have witnessed, or have information regarding this incident, is asked to contact Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212 and quote file number 2020-12015. Should you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).