A 38-year-old Surrey man is in custody after six parked police cars were seriously damaged and Burnaby Hospital’s emergency department was flooded early Sunday morning, say Burnaby RCMP.
Joseph Field, 38, of Surrey has been charged with two counts of possession of stolen property and one count of mischief over $5,000 in connection with the damaged police vehicles, said Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Major John Buis.
Field is known to police and could still face additional charges in relation to the hospital incident.
A nearby resident called police just after 1 a.m. Sunday when they saw a man trying to break into a rental truck parked near the community police office at Lougheed mall, said Buis.
On the way to the scene, officers learned the suspect had driven a Jeep Cherokee SUV into the back of a police car before breaking into the five-ton rental truck.
He backed the truck into two police cars, then severely damaged several more as well as the original Jeep while maneuvering the truck, which he eventually crashed into a power pole.
“He walked away and he was arrested without incident quite close to the scene,” said Buis.
It only took the suspect a couple minutes to seriously damage five marked patrol cars, one unmarked police car used by the detachment’s anti-graffiti unit, and one van used by Citizens Crime Watch volunteers, he said.
Officers took the man to Burnaby Hospital for both a medical and psychiatric evaluation.
“We didn’t know what we were dealing with at the time, whether it was drugs, alcohol or emotional issues.”
It appears that when the man was unhandcuffed, he jumped up from his hospital bed and pulled down a sprinkler head, causing the ER to be flooded. ER patients were moved to other parts of the hospital and BC Ambulance diverted new patients to other local hospitals.
After the man was checked by doctors, he was taken to the jail cells of the Burnaby RCMP detachment where he remained on Monday morning.
On Monday, officers were still pulling together information before recommending further charges to Crown counsel.
That information would included whether or not the man is also responsible for an incident on Saturday morning at a Fraser Health facility in Surrey where someone matching the suspect’s description became agitated before pulling a sprinkler head out, causing significant water damage there too.
The person was seen driving off in a similar Jeep Cherokee as the one used in the Burnaby incident which had been reported stolen in Surrey on Saturday.
“The same person that was at the Surrey facility may be the same person, we’re just trying to connect the dots,” said Buis. “In 37 years of policing I’ve never seen anything like it.”
There were no injuries in any of the incidents.
The cost of the damage is not yet known but Buis noted a brand-new, fully-equipped police vehicle costs about $45,000 so it will be “significant.” He noted that RCMP doesn’t carry vehicle insurance since the federal government underwrites itself.
On Monday, Burnaby Hospital’s ER remained open but with limited capacity, said Fraser Health Authority spokesperson Tasleem Juma by email.
Of the 18 beds originally affected, nine were re-opened Sunday night and the remainder are expected to re-open Tuesday evening.
“This work takes time as we must ensure all Infection Control protocols are followed and the area is safe to provide patient care,” Juma said.
“Restoration crews continue to work on-site and are now working with our insurance company to determine the cost of the damage. We will know more about this in the days to come.”
In the meantime, Fraser Health continues to advise people to go to neighboring hospitals instead or in an emergency situation, call 911.