Police are once again highlighting a prolific offender in Kelowna who was arrested Wednesday evening for allegedly breaking into a downtown business, just hours after he was released from custody on separate charges from earlier in the week.
Justin Collins, 46, is behind bars, for now, after police responded to a break-in at a store on the 1200 block of Cannery Lane just after 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. The retail store's glass front door had been broken and items had been stolen.
“Prior to police arrival, employees had already recognized the suspect via the live CCTV feed and located him nearby with some of the stolen items of which they recovered,” Cpl. Michael Gauthier of the Kelowna RCMP said in a press release.
“Employees then alerted police to the suspect’s location where he was arrested and an additional stolen item from the store was recovered from his person.”
Collins has been charged with breaking and entering and remains in custody at this time.
Collins, who's suffered from addiction and homelessness for years, has a lengthy criminal record in Kelowna and the Lower Mainland. Last August, the Kelowna RCMP took the extraordinary step of warning the public about his release from custody. Kelowna's mayor at the time, Colin Basran, responded to Collins' release last summer, saying "something has to change."
Just hours prior to his arrest Wednesday night, police say Collins had been released from custody following his arrest for theft and mischief for alleged incidents on May 22 and 23. And just days before that, on May 19, he pleaded guilty to and was sentenced on a number of separate charges. But it appears he was sentenced to time served.
“Justin Collins is a prime example of a repeat offender who has shown he is simply unwilling to stop committing crime and victimizing our businesses and downtown core” Cpl. Gauthier said.
“A collaboration between attuned business owners, the police and the BC Prosecution Service has resulted in this individual remaining in custody over the weekend whilst seeking further detention.”
Last October, Collins pleaded guilty to a handful of charges, and Judge Lisa Wyatt sentenced him to five months jail, in addition to the 89 days of presentence credit he had. In declining the defence's proposed time served sentence, Judge Wyatt expressed frustration.
“How do I protect the community?” Judge Wyatt asked. “He gets out and immediately breached my (Aug. 5) order. He doesn't report and within two and a half weeks, he's reoffending.”
“There is no question that Mr. Collins has significant barriers to overcome ... we know very well in these courts how hard it is for someone to overcome addiction and poverty. But this alone cannot excuse Mr. Collins' behaviour which include his blatant refusal to follow his probation order and his continuing pattern of property crime, obstruction of police and assaulting people.”
Collins is scheduled to next appear in Kelowna court Monday on the charges from May 22, 23 and 24.