The Mounties got their man red-handed and with his pants down. Most importantly, police believe they’ve arrested the person responsible for a series of indecent acts committed on a B.C. Transit bus linking the West Shore to Saanich.
A 31-year-old man was taken into custody Tuesday after two women officers with West Shore RCMP conducted a sting operation and caught the man masturbating on the No. 50 bus, shortly after 7 a.m.
He boarded the bus in Langford at Goldstream Avenue and Wale Road, along with the two plainclothes female RCMP officers.
“As soon as they got on the bus they got seats to get a good view,” said Sgt. Max Fossum of West Shore RCMP.
B.C. Transit believes it is the first time anyone has been arrested while exposing himself on a bus, said Meribeth Burton, B.C. Transit spokesperson.
“Moments (after boarding the bus), the gentleman starts exposing himself,” Burton said. “He was arrested at Douglas and Cloverdale (in Saanich) when he got off the bus.”
There were other passengers on the bus, but police say none were aware of what the man was doing.
“The officers were surprised no one else saw,” Fossum said.
The RCMP had a suspect after a woman took photos and video of a man committing a similar indecent act.
The witness recorded that incident at 7:15 a.m., May 23, and passed on the evidence to police. It was the second time she had seen the same man expose himself.
The 31-year-old is a Langford resident. He was described as six-feet-tall, Caucasian with reddish hair.
“This is not the first time he’s been charged with this,” Fossum said.
The man was spotted getting on the bus at the same location several days in a row before police set up the sting.
B.C. Transit’s customer service team received calls after May 23 from other bus riders who reported a man exposing himself on the No. 50 bus.
“Descriptions varied,” Burton said. “With the photo it was clear who it was we were looking for.”
The woman who snapped the image of the man in the act was “smart” to do so, said Burton, explaining that it allowed the RCMP to work with B.C. Transit’s security to send the suspect’s description to all 550 bus drivers.
“We suspect it wasn’t just the one or two times,” Burton said.
“But it was the one time that we had someone who was really sharp who took a photo, and the police involved our security team and all of the pieces came together.”
The suspect, whose name had not been released as of Wednesday, was due to appear in court on June 5.
With files from Erin McCracken
While this case sounds similar to accounts earlier in the year of a male exposing himself at bus stops in Greater Victoria, Sgt. Max Fossum of West Shore RCMP said he is not sure if the cases are connected.
Last year, about 20 incidents were reported in Saanich and Victoria about a man masturbating at bus stops. In most of those incidents, the man would expose and fondle himself in front of women, primarily Asian.
The description of the offender at the time was a caucasian male between 20 and 35, six-feet-tall with short brown hair.