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Search and Rescue retrieve lost backcountry skiers



A three-day backcountry skiing and mountaineering expedition from Mt. Currie to Blackcomb Mountain ended with a helicopter ride on Monday morning for three Washington residents after they lost their bearings in the Wedge Creek area by Phalanx Mountain.

The three men were experienced in backcountry travel. They left on the three-day trip Friday morning. They were expected to finish on Sunday afternoon, but at roughly 3 a.m. on Monday the spouse of one of the skiers received a call suggesting that the party was lost, likely on the north side of Phalanx. Concerned for their safety the spouse contacted the Whistler RCMP, who in turn contacted Search and Rescue.

They tried several times to reach the party's satellite phone but were unsuccessful, prompting them to organize a rescue team for first light.

The party was located easily and directed to an area where they could be airlifted to safety.

The group had a good idea where they were and likely would have been able to find their way out the following day, says Sergeant Shawn LeMay of the Whistler RCMP, but given the fact that they were 12 hours overdue and weren't answering their satellite phone - or other cell phones - a decision was made to intervene for safety reasons.

Computer stolen from restaurant

The RCMP are investigating a reported break and enter at the Bavaria Restaurant on the evening of April 15 or morning of April 16 after the manager noticed that a computer monitor and computer had been taken from the building.

The RCMP are still investigating how the thief broke into the establishment and would not comment on the motive.


Pharmacy robbed of over-the-counter drugs

The Whistler RCMP are investigating after a male entered a Whistler Pharmacy on April 12 and stole a large quantity of two products - Robax Platinum, a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, and another product containing Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride, which is an antihistamine used to treat allergies as well as a sleep aid and treatment for mild anxiety.

The RCMP have obtained a photo of the suspect, who walked out with the medication at 5:30 p.m. The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 25 years old, wearing a grey sweater and pants, a blue toque and red shoes.


Cheque fraud targets landlords

Sea to Sky residents are being asked to take care when accepting cheques and money orders, after the Whistler RCMP was made aware of a forged cheque.

The scam was seen before the Olympics and has resurfaced in the corridor.

Landlords are the usual target, after they receive calls from outside the province to negotiate the rental of a property. This call is followed by the fraudsters sending a forged bank cheque, often from the Bank of Montreal, for the wrong amount of money.

The cheque looks very official with raised numbers, signatures and other security features, and lists a bank branch in Surrey.

The person who sent the cheque then contacts the landlord after the cheque has been mailed advising them that they sent the wrong amount, asking them to wire some of the money back. The victim isn't aware of the fraud until they attempt to cash the cheque.

This type of fraud has been reported across Canada and B.C. using cheques between $3,000 and $4,500 - the incident in Whistler was for $3,400 - and the RCMP advise caution when conducting financial transactions by telephone, e-mail or through the Internet.

"You really need to ask the questions, especially when it's someone you don't know," says Sergeant Shawn LeMay. "Go talk to someone, go to your bank or talk to the police if you suspect fraud. Once that money has been sent out it's gone."


Abandoned 911 calls continue

Last week the Whistler RCMP responded to 27 abandoned 911 calls. They ask that members of the public take steps to prevent accidental calls by locking their phones and taking other steps. If you do accidentally call 911 always answer the return call and co-operate with the RCMP.

"It makes it difficult for us when a person shuts off their phone and keeps hanging up on us," said Sergeant LeMay.

Without confirmation that it was an accident the RCMP will investigate to ensure that there is no one in distress, tying up resources in the process.


Festival goers well-behaved

The Whistler RCMP handed out almost 80 tickets for open liquor on the weekend, but very few people were arrested for public intoxication. Less than five people taken in on Saturday and Sunday. There was one 24-hour driving prohibition and two drivers charged with impaired driving.

The RCMP will continue to have a presence in the village through the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, including a larger presence at the Grenade Games grande finale on Saturday night at the base of Whistler Mountain.