John Morgan delivers The Telegram to towns across the island every morning. At 7:10 Monday morning, he left the van running as he ran inside the Goobies gas station to drop off papers destined for Marystown. He walked five feet into the store and laid the bundles on the counter. When he came back out a few seconds later, his van was gone.
“I saw it backing up, and at first I was thinking, why is someone moving my van? And then it hit me: they’re not moving it. They’re stealing it”
Dumbstruck, Morgan saw a second man run to the van and jump in the side door.
“I didn’t see the driver because he was already in the van. When I came out they were already backing up and doing what I call the ‘Allan Hawco,’” he said, referring to the star of “Republic of Doyle,” who has acted in many a car chase.
“And the worst of it is, I was only about five feet away from them when they took off. I don’t think I could have jumped in the van, but if I had to have something in my hands there I could have grabbed the other kid.”
A man across the parking lot beckoned to Morgan and asked if he wanted to pursue the thieves. The two men chased the van from Goobies towards Whitbourne, where the police took over.
Morgan says the thieves were driving at extremely high speeds, approaching 200 kilometres per hour on the rain-slicked roads.
“It was a little scary, actually, because we were doing some high speeds,” said Morgan. “But we pursued them. I was nervous; my heart was beating out of my chest. We weren’t going to do anything, we weren’t going to try and bang into them or run them off the road. I think the only possible thing that we could have done is if we could have got around them, we could have tried to slow them down somehow, where they had no other choice to stop if there were cars coming.”
Several bundles of papers flew out of the van as it sped down the highway.
“Either they left the side door open, didn’t bother to close it, and everything was flying out as they were going around turns and stuff, or they were throwing stuff out there.”
Morgan had about 1,200 copies of the Telegram and over 900 copies of the Carbonear-based TC Media paper, The Compass aboard. Now, he has to go back out to Goobies to salvage as many papers as he can off the side of the road from Goobies to Long Harbour Road.
“So I’ve got a wonderful day in front of me thanks to those two little punks. And I’ve been on the go since two o’clock this morning,” said Morgan.
“I’m angry. Very angry. Look at what it’s caused me now. Plus all the customers that are not going to get their copy of The Telegram or The Compass today. It affects more than just me having to go clean up this mess.”
The Telegram distribution department is gathering together as many papers as possible to deliver to subscribers’ homes tomorrow. If there are not enough papers to go around, subscribers will receive a credit.
Since it happened so fast, Morgan did not notice much about the thieves, except that they were young men, probably between the ages of 19 and 25. One was wearing a hat and a quilted jacket.
The RCMP eventually lost sight of the van; Morgan believes the fate of the vehicle is bleak.
“Once the van got past Whitbourne, there were only two scenarios for it, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “They would have had an accident and went off the road, because there was a lot of water on the road, and at high speeds they could have hydroplaned. Or, they’ve gotten to their destination, so my van is going to be burnt on the Southside Hills some time tonight.”
The van is a teal blue 2003 Toyota Sienna.
Morgan knows little about the Good Samaritan who took him on the chase except that he is from Hillview. When the man dropped him off in Whitbourne, he would not even accept Morgan’s offer to fill up his truck with gas.