While out shopping at the Beacon Hill Canadian Tire on Saturday, February 22, 2020, an off-duty Calgary police officer noticed that a fellow shopper matched the description of a wanted criminal. This wanted man had a crowbar and bolt cutters in his shopping cart and was browsing around displays of bear spray and gun pellet cases. The Calgary Police arrest at Canadian Tire led the authorities to the man's stolen car where they were able to recover items from previous thefts.
The wanted man, identified as Robert Duncan Ellerbeck by Calgary Police in their official press release, was wanted for being involved in a series of thefts and burglaries across the city.
The off-duty officer in question had been the supervisor of the robbery investigation at one point. As stated in the press release, he "coordinated the arrest of the suspect" and discovered the stolen car.
If that isn't coincidental enough, the Canadian Tire staff observed another man who was acting suspiciously in the store.
Turns out that this man, identified as Tyron Perry Stokes in the press release, had 11 outstanding warrants to his name; he was also taken into custody by the cops at the scene.
The police confirmed that the two arrests are unrelated, and Stokes is not connected to Ellerbeck in any way.
The Calgary Police define the whole situation "as a result of officers being in the right place at the right time."
They had been on the hunt for Ellerbeck since February 14, 2020, when a 2005 Subaru was stolen from a parking lot in Erin Woods.
Calgary car theft rates are actually among the highest in the country.
The items that were recovered have connected Ellerbeck to a number of thefts that occurred over the next week following the car theft.
They include money being stolen from Woods Well Restaurant, an expensive pair of sunglasses that were taken from a parked vehicle at Sunridge Mall, and a stolen phone from a Husky clerk on Macleod Trail.
On Friday, February 21, Ellerbeck allegedly stole lottery scratch tickets from four different locations throughout the day. In two of the burglaries, he attacked the clerks with bear spray.
The police were able to identify him through surveillance footage collected at the locations.
They were working on locating the suspect when a stroke of luck at Canadian Tire allowed them to make a swift arrest.
Ellerbeck has now been charged with theft of a motor vehicle, four counts of theft under $5,000, two counts of robbery, and two counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
He also had five outstanding warrants connected to his name.
He is due to appear in court on February 26.
Narcity has reached out to Canadian Tire for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response.