Paul Bentley got up in a rush early last Friday when he heard his cat making noise in his south Nanaimo home.
He didn’t stop to put on clothes.
“I came down the hall and then I heard a smash,” he said.
He quickly discovered someone had broken in through a window at the side door. Then he saw a hand reaching through the shards to try to unlock it. It was 3:20 a.m.
Bentley yelled and the hand pulled away.
“If I would’ve stopped and put some clothes on, the person would have been in my home,” he said. “That’s how quickly these things happen. He faced a naked man.”
When Bentley opened the door, he saw a young man swinging two baseball bats — and not backing down.
“I might have taken two or three hits with the bats,” said the 57-year-old grandfather. “I realized he wasn’t here for a coffee, so I pretty much went at him.”
He said the would-be intruder was clearly under the influence of something, and was a tough customer.
“I’m 5-foot-10 and I weigh 260 pounds,” he said. “Sure there’s a little bit of fat on me, but underneath that’s as solid as it gets.”
Bentley said he hit the man with a forearm, and the would-be intruder tumbled down a few stairs.
“I got him down on the ground and he was still giving ‘er.”
Bentley’s partner had called 911 and police arrived to make an arrest, but not before having to scuffle with the man.
A 20-year-old man is facing charges including breaking-and-entering, assault with a weapon and resisting arrest.
Bentley emerged with minor injuries that didn’t require medical treatment.
After the encounter, he noticed several pairs of runners he keeps in the carport had been moved around, and the man was clearly planning to take them. “He had a pair of my running shoes on when they arrested him and took him away.”
Bentley said that with his partner and two tenants in the house, he wasn’t going to let the situation get any further than it did.
“I don’t want to sound like a hero,” he said. “I did what I did in the moment. This guy had crashed my home.”
The thing is, he added, he would have had no hesitation in giving the man assistance if he hadn’t been trying to break in,
“The way I roll is, if he would’ve knocked on my door at that hour and said: ‘Hey, can you help me?’ I would’ve said ‘Sure, what do you need?’ I would have given him the runners.”
A home invasion in the area is the last thing residents would have expected, Bentley said. “It’s a great neighbourhood,” he said. “We all look out for each other.”
The Roberta Road East incident turned out to be the first in a string of home invasions late last week on Vancouver Island.
Two home invasions in the span of 10 hours followed on the West Shore, one about 5 p.m. on Friday in Langford near the 3000-block of Glen Lake Road and the next about 2:45 a.m. Saturday on Middle Road in the Songhees Nation.
West Shore RCMP have since determined the two incidents aren’t connected., and no one has been arrested in either case.
Const. Nancy Saggar said anyone who gets an unexpected knock or doorbell ring should try to get a look outside, even if just through a window. “You can tell a lot just by that.”
Despite the recent incidents, home invasions are actually quite rare, Saggar said. “It’s very, very unusual that we had two of these in 24 hours.”
She said in most home invasions, there is a link between victim and perpetrator, although that is not the case in the Nanaimo or Langford incidents.
Police said the Songhees Nation home invasion appears to have been targeted.
West Shore RCMP ask anyone with information or surveillance video related to the Langford or Songhees Nation incident to call 240-474-2264.