Langley residents help stop hit and run suspect

Witnesses picked up the suspect’s dropped cellphone and were allegedly pepper sprayed

A community effort led to the arrest of a hit-and-run suspect who allegedly hit a parked car with a stolen vehicle and fled on foot.

Langley RCMP was called to the 20800 block of 72 Avenue on July 25 for a report of hit and run.

Reports indicated a parked car had been struck and the driver of the suspect vehicle, a Kia, walked away on foot. Witnesses to the collision followed the driver who began running from the scene, dropping his cellphone in the process, said Langley RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Holly Largy.

The witnesses held the phone and when the driver returned to retrieve it, he allegedly sprayed bear spray, took his phone and ran from the area.

Police Dog Services arrived and with the help of an off duty police officer who observed the suspect running, were able to track and locate the suspect hiding in the bushes, she said.

He was arrested and found to have the keys for the Kia in his possession. Police determined the Kia had been stolen some time the evening prior.

Mauricio Javier Avila, a 25-year-old man from Surrey, has been charged with possession of stolen property, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 11.

“It is clear this individual should receive the message — his life in crime is not proving successful. The people of Langley have come together to deliver this message and this behaviour won’t be tolerated here,” said Supt. Murray Power, officer in charge of Langley RCMP. On Aug. 2, Avila was sentenced to nine days in jail for breaching his conditions related to another crime.

monique@langleytimes.com