A Kamloops man who was taken on a bizarre and wild ride through Westsyde on Wednesday after attempting to reclaim his stolen truck says he does not regret taking matters into his own hands.
Francis Payette told KTW his pickup truck — a flatbed he uses for work in logging — was stolen from outside his Rayleigh home late last week.
Payette reported the theft to police and posted photos of the distinctive vehicle on Facebook.
His social-media work paid off on Wednesday.
“My buddy phoned me and said, ‘Francis, I think I just saw your truck,’” Payette said.
“I said, ‘Are you sure?’ I was out in Rayleigh having lunch. It was about noontime. He said, ‘Yeah, that’s your truck.’ I said, ‘OK, I’m on my way.’”
Payette said he arrived to find the truck parked in a lot near Chances Casino in Brocklehurst, with two people inside.
“I knocked on the window and I said, ‘Get out of my car now — immediately,’” Payette said, noting a woman was behind the steering wheel and a man sat in the passenger seat.
“I could hear her putting the thing in gear and I was like, ‘What do you do? Let them drive away?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m going to stop them’ — and I did stop them.”
Payette said he immediately grabbed onto a rack on the back of the cab of his truck and held on.
“I could hear him yelling, ‘Get him off! Get him off!’” Payette said, noting the driver then appeared to take deliberate aim at a hydro pole.
“I could see it coming, so I ducked down so I wouldn’t get thrown, because that’s how you get hurt. I get up and look and she’d cracked the pole in half and there’s wires coming down and transformers.
“Then she puts it in reverse and fires it up again and starts heading down the road some more.”
Payette said what followed was something of a 20-kilometre demolition derby, with the truck reaching speeds in excess of 100 km/h.
“She’s hitting cars, she’s going through traffic, she’s trying to get me off — but she didn’t get me off,” he said, noting the passenger began attacking him with pepper spray.
“I just wanted my truck back,” he said.
Passersby posted on social media, reporting that the man in the flatbed of the truck — Payette — was swinging a chain at the driver in an attempt to stop the vehicle.
Payette said the truck’s motor died and it caught fire after it crashed through a fence and wound up in a field off Clarke Road, near Jamieson Creek Road, north of Westsyde.
Kamloops Mounties said two suspects were arrested and taken to hospital, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Payette was not injured in the incident and police have since warned members of the public to be careful when dealing with potential criminals.
“We’re very thankful that there were no serious injuries to anyone involved in this situation,” RCMP Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said.
“We suggest that the public contacts the police if they witness a stolen vehicle being driven. Luckily, the owner was not injured, but it could have been a very different outcome.”
Payette said he felt he had no choice but to take the law into his own hands.
“We have to stop them,” he said. “The cops said to me, when I called last week, 25 vehicles go missing every day in Kamloops. We’re not doing anything to stop them. We’re enabling them. Our system is not set up to stop them.”
Payette said he was not satisfied with the work of police since his truck was stolen — and that opinion did not change after Wednesday’s incident.
Last week, Payette said, he was cautioned by police against transferring insurance from his stolen truck to another vehicle. After the truck went up in flames on Wednesday, he said, police were hesitant to attempt to put the fire out.
“They just said, ‘Let it burn, it will be OK,’” Payette said. “I said, ‘No, it’s not insured. Get your fire extinguishers out.’”
Shelkie said the incident could have played out differently had police had been notified immediately.
“If the friend who had seen the stolen vehicle in the first instance had called police, it could have been a very different situation,” she said. “Perhaps we could have stopped it before it hit a power pole, hit three other vehicles and then crashed through a fence and caught fire.
“Things could have been different. There could have been different circumstances that happened. Luckily, it worked out fairly well in that there were no serious injuries.”
Payette said he would do it again if faced with the same circumstances.
“We have no choice,” he said. “It took two rednecks to catch these guys.”