Two Canadian soldiers accused of theft and related charges are to appear in Provincial Court on Tuesday in a case that is being closely watched by the Department of National Defence.
Ryan Verhoeks, a 20-year-old reservist in the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s), faces 13 charges related to possession of prohibited ammunition magazines, careless storage of a firearm, theft over $5,000, break and enter and uttering threats.
Cory Wagner, also 20 years old, has been charged with theft over $5,000, break and enter and uttering threats. He recently transferred from the reserves to the regular forces and had been slated for training courses.
The two soldiers were arrested following an investigation into a break-and-enter and theft at a Nanaimo fast food restaurant on Christmas eve.
More than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and six firearms were found when Mounties from the RCMP’s Nanaimo detachment arrested Mr. Verhoeks at his home on Wednesday, the RCMP stated in a news release. None of the ammunition was properly secured, police said.
Mr. Verhoeks, 20, had licences for the guns, although several firearms were not properly stored and did not have trigger locks, police said.
However, the source of the ammunition was not clear on Monday.
The military is investigating whether any of its ammunition is missing, Major Dan Thomas, of the Canadian Forces, said in an interview.
“We are currently paying close attention to all aspects of this matter – the RCMP investigation and the criminal justice proceedings,” Major Thomas said.
“It is important to not presuppose the outcome of the justice proceedings,” he added.
If warranted by circumstances, the Canadian Forces has the option of suspending the soldiers from duty as the court case continues.
The suspension could be without pay, Major Thomas said. However, reservists receive pay only when they are on duty or parading, he said.
“Our key priority right now is to observe and respect the due process currently under way,” Major Thomas said. “This will help guide us in further action.”
During exercises, the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) conducts raids, reconnaissance patrols, ambushes, amphibious assaults and airmobile operations, its website states. The regiment is the largest infantry regiment in western Canada, operating out of Victoria, Nanaimo and Courtenay, B.C.
The qualifications for the reserves are the same as joining the regular forces. All people being considered for membership in the Canadian Forces undergo background checks. “If any red flags arise, those certainly affect eligibility,” Major Thomas said.
Those joining the Scottish Regiment must have no “legal obligation” as a result of trouble with the law, the website says.
Constable Gary O’Brien stated that none of the stolen money has been recovered. Both men have been kept in custody since their arrest with their consent.