Police charge man wanted for break and enters targeting firearms
A local man police describe as a person of interest relating to a string of rural break and enters targeting firearms, and who is facing charges stemming from a home invasion in the city in October, was arrested by police Dec. 23 after an officer recognized him as the driver of a stolen vehicle they were pursuing.
Police were called about 10:30 a.m. about a suspicious vehicle in the Blackburn Rd. area. Two young men were driving a newer GMC pick-up with veteran plates. One of the men was confronted by a resident when he was seen peering through a window. The man said he was looking for someone, gave what is believed to be a false name, and then both men left in the truck.
Members of the crime reduction team attended the area and observed the pick-up turning off of Graves Rd. onto Highway 16, heading towards the city. The truck accelerated to a high rate of speed then turned left, heading south on Boeing Rd.
Both the occupants and the truck were located at a gas station on Boeing Rd. a few minutes later. Police computer checks of the vehicle found it was stolen on Dec. 10 from a home on the 1700 block of Maple St.
Although the driver tried to hide his face, and later tried to cover it with a bandana, an officer on-scene positively identified the driver as Jamie Hal Hammerstrom.
After trying to hide his face from the officer, Hammerstrom reversed out of the parking lot and fled the scene, even after the officer activated the emergency lights and siren on his unmarked vehicle.
Officers travelling west on Boeing Rd., heading toward the pick-up, deployed a spike belt but Hammerstrom swerved off the road in order to avoid it.
They did not pursue him in order to maximize public safety.
Hammerstrom was next spotted by general duty officers in a fully marked police vehicle while he was approaching the Yellowhead Bridge, travelling at what the officers say was excessive speeds. One officer had to drive his vehicle off the road, fearing the suspect was going to ram him.
Just before 5 p.m. the same day, Hammerstrom was arrested without incident while walking along Quince St., near 20th Ave. Just before 7 p.m., the 26-year-old 150 Mile House resident thought to be the passenger in the truck was also arrested then released with a promise to appear for court at a later date. The stolen truck was recovered by police in a parking lot off 15th Ave the next day.
Hammerstrom, a 33-year-old Prince George man, was charged for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, flight from police and breach of recognizance. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 20.
The previous charges stemming from what was described as a targeted home invasion on the 2100 block of Norwood St. include sexual assault with a weapon, assault with a weapon, attempted robbery, break and enter and uttering threats.
Cpl. Craig Douglass, media liaison with the RCMP said that, although Hammerstrom is not a gang member he is associated to gangs.
Investigators also believe Hammerstrom and a few others are people of interest in a rash of break and enters in the rural area around Prince George where firearms were specifically being targeted. They believe the people responsible for these crimes will identify a residence where no one seems to be home, then knock on the door. If someone answers, they claim to be looking for another person, and provide a false name. If no one answers, they break into the home.
The guns are passed along to the kind of people who want a weapon but who don’t want to go through regular channels to get one, Douglass said, the kind of people involved in organized crime and gangs.
The Prince George RCMP are asking the public, especially the rural public, to take the necessary steps to protect homes and firearms.
Douglass said that although property crimes within the city are down, ones in the regional district are on the rise. The reason for this is more people who live in the country are likely to own firearms. There are also likely to be a limited amount of witnesses and police response times are slower, considering the distance of these areas from the city.
Considering this, police are asking everyone be extra observant and report any suspicious activity. According to police, the above charges are a result of an observant community member. For more information or to find out about the Rural Crime Watch Program, please contact the Prince George RCMP Community Policing Office at 250-561-3366 or go to www.princegeorge.rcmp.ca.
If you have any information about this or any other property related crime in the Prince George area, please contact the Prince George RCMP at 250-561-3300 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.pgcrimestoppers.bc.ca, or Text-A-Tip to CRIMES using keyword “pgtips”.