Already fed up with rural crime, a Red Deer County resident looked on in disbelief as two escaped fugitives allegedly stole his quad in broad daylight this week.
Tyler Hirsche chased after the suspects in his truck as they sped away on his quad across his farm at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hirsche, a Red Deer city firefighter, had some idea that the two men could be prisoners Quinn Russel Peterson, 26, and Douglas Brian Power, 52, who fled the Red Remand Centre along with another man earlier that day.
“I thought I recognized them,” he said, from photos released by police.
“But I was just thinking I was not going to let them get away with taking something I’ve worked hard for …”
It was only later the Red Deer city firefighter realized — with immense gratitude — his wife and kids had left their Pine Lake-area yard to go to a baseball game only minutes before he spotted the two fugitives leaving a Quonset hut on his quad.
Hirsche chased them down a road and through some fields in his truck, until they headed towards a neighbour’s property and managed to squeeze the stolen quad under a barbed-wire fence.
According to a police report, the fugitives soon ran the stolen quad right into the side of a parked RCMP vehicle, which was on scene because officers were investigating reports of a stolen pickup truck left in the field.
While the suspects tried to flee on foot, one of them was caught by a police dog, and the other was apprehended by an Innisfail RCMP officer.
Both Peterson and Power face more charges. A third fugitive, Dallas Albert Rain, remains at large.
“I’m just glad that no one got hurt,” said Hirsche, who got his quad back, but it’s all scratched up and needs engine repairs. “I’m just so frustrated,” he added.
The Red Deer County resident has seen rural life take a 180-degree turn over the past three years as the opioid crisis and area’s economy have worsened.
It used to be country life made you feel safe from a higher city crime rate, he said, but now it seems criminals are targeting rural properties.
“A group of us (neighbours) always keep an eye out for each other,” said Hirsche, yet reports of stolen tools, house break-ins and vehicle thefts abound.
Hirsche understands police can only do so much, but he believes municipalities should arrange for more patrols to keep rural residents safe, and stiffer penalties should be meted out for property crimes.
Hirsche intends to take this message to county councillors and his MLA and MP.