Three men who allegedly tried to loot a flooded New Brunswick home were forced to flee in a canoe from an angry, underwear-clad homeowner.
Markus Harvey woke up early Sunday in southern New Brunswick’s flood zone to a loud thud and the beam of a flashlight coming up the stairs.
“I hollered out ‘Hello,’ and a voice said ‘You need to evacuate,” he said Monday from Maugerville, N.B. “At that point I knew it wasn’t anybody that was there for my well-being.”
Harvey – six feet tall and more than 200 pounds – is one of the few homeowners in his area that hasn’t evacuated, despite rising waters and power outages.
He jumped out of bed, his booming voice questioning the intruders.
“They started scurrying like rats out my back door so I ran after them,” he said.
Still in his underwear, Harvey chased the burglars outside and heard splashing in the backyard.
He jumped on his pool deck and saw three men grabbing paddles and untying a canoe from his butternut tree.
“They were looking to make a hasty retreat,” Harvey said of the masked intruders, one of whom concealed his face with a hat and bandana while the other two wore hoodies tightly pulled around their faces.
He ran back inside, and finding his camera equipment intact, grabbed a long lens and ran out to photograph the men’s attempted escape in their getaway canoe.
“I was able to snap one little grainy picture of three guys in a canoe,” Harvey said of a photo that ended up being shared widely on social media.
He called the RCMP to report the attempted robbery, and then called a farmer down the road.
“I let him know these guys were going behind the houses in the back water and heading down river,” Harvey said.
He called a handful of other neighbours – including one with a boat.
“In about 30 to 45 minutes we had eyeballs on them,” Harvey said, noting that he then called Jody Price, chief of the Oromocto Fire Department.
“I let him know what was happening and he said a few choice words, and then he scrambled some boats,” he said.
A slow boat chase ensued, and about two hours after the attempted robbery, three men were arrested by the Mounties.
The RCMP said Monday Brandon Hatchard, a 29-year-old man from Perth-Andover, and Travis Hunt, a 29-year-old man from Maugerville, were charged with break and enter and possession of stolen property. Chance Leslie, a 25-year-old man from Middle Hainesville, was charged with break and enter, possession of stolen property and breach of probation.
All three men were remanded into custody.
“It makes you angry and it is disheartening,” Harvey said of thieves looting homes in the flood zone.
“On the other hand, I was able to call people in my community and we rallied together to get eyeballs on these guys in under an hour. It was a collective effort and we got ’em.”
He said his home was built in 2010 to withstand flooding. Although his basement has about five feet of water, he said his main floor and second floor are dry.