Hijacking: Recollections of a nightmare ride

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MONTREAL, Que. – Just three hours into a good night’s sleep, Bob felt someone in his truck. At first I thought it was someone I knew playing a trick on me. Instead, he found himself staring into the barrel of a gun. It was 5:30 a.m.

“The guy instructed me to roll over and face the wall,” Bob recalls. “He was wearing mirrored glasses. He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you. I just want your load.’ He crawled into the bunk with me and a second guy climbed into the driver’s seat, slid it ahead and put air in the seat. He was very professional, a very good driver.”

For the next three hours Bob lay helpless as the thieves drove to two drop-off points, counted their money and finally abandoned him and his rig on a small-town street.

This is a true story that happened near Montreal, Canada’s cargo theft capital, but Bob asked that details that could identify him or his company be disguised.

“We left the rest area and headed east to the next exit,” Bob continues. “I thought I would be able to rehearse the directions and tell someone where we had gone. But that didn’t work.”

I have to cooperate. It’s winter and if they toss me out in the ditch I’ve only got on my underwear. Where are my shoes?

“The guy in the back with me said it would be over in one to one-and-a-half hours,” Bob recalls. “He pinned me to the back of the bunk with his back. He covered me up with a blanket, but not my head. Every once in a while he would put his hand on my shoulder, shake me and say, ‘Are you alright? We don’t want a heart attack here today.’ If there is ever such a thing as a polite crook, I had him. We drove for 15-20 minutes and did one drop. Afterward, the driver got back in the truck and they talked in French. I heard the guy in the bunk counting money. There were quite a few pieces of paper involved.

“At the second drop, or maybe it was the first, the gentleman in the back lit a cigarette. I said, ‘If you must smoke, be careful with your butt and ashes.’ He said, ‘I’ll be taking them with me.’ I asked him if I could have my glasses. He said, ‘No, you don’t need your glasses.’ I asked him if he could put my glasses somewhere safe and he folded them and put them on a shelf.

“The tone of the man’s voice and their being calm made me calm. He said, ‘I won’t take your wallet because it is too hard to get it back.’ He only took my cash. I asked if I could lie on my stomach. He inched ahead, I lay on my stomach and he moved back against me. He kept the blanket pulled up over me to keep me warm, I guess.”

Bob recalls, “The driver, whose English was not very good, said, ‘No f***ing around, do you have to contact your dispatcher at seven o’clock? I mean no f***ing around, do you have to contact your dispatcher at seven o’clock in the morning?’

“At one point I asked the guy in the back with the pistol, ‘How did you get into the truck? The doors were locked.’ He kinda snickered and said, ‘You know the little window at the bottom of the door? That’s how you get into a Peterbilt.’

“I had to pee and said, ‘I hope this is soon over. I have to pee.’ He said, ‘Five to 10 minutes and you’ll be on your way.’ They finally stopped the truck, put on the brakes and signal light. He said, ‘You wait for 10 seconds before you move.’

“As soon as they left the truck I looked in the mirrors, but it was like they had evaporated. I grabbed my pants.”

It’s like eight o’clock in my home town…people going to work…it’s just like a normal day in my home town.

“I jumped out and had a leak,” Bob continues. The cell phone rang. It was my friend, who had been expecting me. I said, ‘I’ve been hijacked and I don’t know where I am!’ He called my dispatcher and they called me up on the satellite system. Then I called 911 and described what I could see around me. Then city police and the Quebec Provincial Police arrived. They escorted me back to the police station.”

The boss knows. My parents know.

“I dialed my parents and my Mom answered the phone. I broke down. I’m not ashamed to say it. It was a very traumatic experience for me,” Bob confesses.

Two cops grilled Bob, who says, “They left the room, came back in and said there was an inconsistency in my story. The impression I got was that they thought I was trying to defraud the insurance company. They saw that I was agitated.” I’m getting pissed off. I want to leave.

“The woman cop said, ‘Do you know that we can charge you with a misdemeanor for telling a story that didn’t happen? Lets go out to the truck and you give me one shred of evidence that this happened.’

“I told her, ‘How did I get from the rest area to here? My window is out, my laptop is gone, my barriers are gone, the load is gone. You do the math. My deductible is $5,000, and the stuff that was stolen was worth maybe $7,000. I’ve given you everything I can give.’

“They didn’t believe it happened. The cop said, ‘We will keep the file, but we will not be investigating.’ I said, ‘Call my boss, and he’ll tell you from the GPS that my truck was here and here.’ But to my knowledge the cops never contacted my boss. When I got home my boss said he was not at all surprised at how the QPP treated me.This same scenario happened to a driver a few years ago in Montreal. They tied him up, smashed his computer. The cops thought he’d done the heist.

“I finally got clear of the QPP at about 2:30 p.m. I drove right from there to ___. I did a complete circle through the parking lot.” Do I drive straight through? Do I stay or do I go? “I parked under a great big yard light. For the first 10 minutes after I shut my eyes I rehearsed the whole thing,” Bob says. What could I have done to prevent this?

“The biggest thing is that you are at their mercy,” Bob explains. “The man holding the pistol had all the cards. If a brand new driver came to me, all I could say is ‘Lock your doors, use your sixth sense.’

“I couldn’t claim the stuff that was stolen. I paid the deductible. Since then one of our guy’s truck was robbed in the U.S. Afterward, he put removable content insurance on his truck. It cost $60/year.

“What pissed me the most was the police, that they treated me that way. I told them, ‘I have lost. What do I have to gain by lying to you?’ No-one offered me lunch or anything. I was a criminal.

“I said to the man in the bunk that if he ever sees my truck again not to bother me. He said ‘Yes.'”

I asked Bob if he thought the guy meant it. Bob laughed.

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