A victim of a break and enter who staked out the perpetrator is happy to have his property back, but the RCMP officer who made the arrest is not condoning his vigilante action.
At around 4 a.m. on December 27, Tanya Desjardins heard a suspicious sound coming from the basement storage area of her apartment. When she looked outside her bedroom window, she could see a figure with something in his possession. Waking up her boyfriend, Michel “Mimi” Ferron, Desjardins called the police while Ferron took stock of what was missing. He discovered it was his chop saw, an important tool to his carpentry trade. That’s when Mimi took action. Shaking the sleep from his head, Ferron immediately jumped on his bike in pursuit. Desjardins had given him, along with Jasper dispatch, a description of the burglar’s vehicle. Having been the victim of a robbery seven months prior, Ferron wanted justice. “I had all my fishing gear stolen from my truck,” Ferron said. “I thought it might be the same guy.” After scouring several hotel parking lots, Ferron biked to Avalanche Esso. There, parked near the gas pump, was the vehicle in question. Inside, draped in a blanket, was his saw. “I could see the guy inside the Esso,” Ferron said. “I wanted to get a picture of his license plate.” As he tried to snap a photo, the suspect came outside. Before the suspect got in the car and drove away, Ferron offered a neutral “how you doing?” He didn’t confront the man. What he did do was finally get that license plate photo. He also asked the store clerk if the man had indicated where he was going. What Ferron found out was that the man was planning to go back to his hotel to pick up his girlfriend. Ferron relayed the news to Desjardins, who passed it on to the RCMP. With the information in hand, Cst. Tracy Young activated a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) dispatch to neighbouring RCMP detachments. She was performing the action in case the suspect headed out of town. Ferron, however, suspected the perpetrator was still in Jasper. As such, he continued his two-wheeled search. Finally, just as he thought the trail was going cold, Ferron located the vehicle at an east-end hotel. Once again he called dispatch, who alerted the RCMP. Dispatchers also told Cst. Young that Ferron was staking out the scene. “Mimi was very determined,” Cst. Young said. “We asked him to leave the scene and told him the dangers of him being there. It was wise that he kept his distance.” Ferron watched as Cst. Young pulled up, inquired after the suspects at the hotel desk and eventually, along with another officer, made the arrest. While the story ended happily for Ferron, Cst. Young was not recommending citizens do their own detective work. She said if the suspect was aggressive, “the situation could have gone downhill.” “We don’t advise chasing after the bad guy,” she said. “It was good on him that he didn’t approach the suspect.” The suspect, Steven Derijck, will face 11 charges in Jasper Provincial Court, including break and enter, possession of property obtained by a crime and possession of break-in instruments—a breach of conditions imposed on him by a previous court. The afternoon following his stakeout, Ferron once again talked to the police. But this time he did listen to them. “They told me to come pick up my saw,” he laughed.