All Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Andy LeClair wanted to do was get his Blackberry out of his car.
But LeClair ended up arresting a man in possession of a stolen cellphone on Monday afternoon.
The incident occurred just outside the Crystal Mall and the Metrotown community policing office.
At approximately 3 p.m., LeClair was going out to his car when a 24-year-old New Westminster man burst out from the emergency exit of the mall.
The man was surprised to see LeClair standing directly in front of him and appeared very nervous.
"I've been a police officer for 21 years, and I have an eight-year-old son," said LeClair. "I can generally tell when someone has done something wrong. - The expression on his face when he saw me was one of complete surprise."
LeClair didn't know exactly what was wrong, but after engaging the man in a discussion, another man came running out of the mall to say somebody had robbed him of his cellphone.
The second man, of Asian descent, was having trouble telling LeClair all of the details because of language issues.
LeClair didn't piece the entire story together, but he did call for back-up and started looking up the first man's information on the computer.
"He's got a ton of recent conditions," LeClair said. "Most of the conditions were about him being prohibited from Metrotown. - At this point, I think he knew the jig was up."
LeClair was starting to worry about the New Westminster man fleeing, but backup arrived at that moment.
LeClair continued putting the pieces together, and as he was about to ask the New Westminster man about the conditions, he noticed him slip a phone back to the Asian man.
"I asked if that was the stolen phone, and he admitted it," said LeClair. "He also asked if that meant he could go, but I said, 'Buddy, you're under arrest for possession of stolen property.'"
Police are warning the public that petty theft and cellphone theft in particular is a big issue for the Burnaby RCMP.
"We are stepping up our street checks, and we're taking a proactive approach to theft," said LeClair.
He also offered these tips on how people can protect themselves:
1. Always be aware of your surround-ings. Don't focus your attention solely on your phone, either while in conversation or while texting.
2. Don't leave your personal items unattended. Thieves will often look for an opportunity to grab your property and it may only take a split second.
3. Be suspicious of distraction. Thieves often work in pairs or groups. While one distracts a victim, the other steals the property.
4. Be suspicious of people just hanging around watching others.
5. Always report thefts to the police. Even if you don't think the police will be able to recover your property or catch the criminals, knowing what is happening and where it's happening gives the police valuable information which they use to identify specific criminal targets and trends, and schedule routine patrols.