A Maugerville, N.B. farmer who surprised three men who broke into his flooded home, says that kind of incident is exactly why he stayed behind while others evacuated the area.

Markus Harvey says he was sleeping just before 5 a.m. Sunday when he heard a thud downstairs. He knew everyone around had left, including his family. Then he saw a beam of a flashlight coming up the stairs.

“At that point, I yelled out ‘Hello’ and then I heard a man’s voice say: ‘You need to evacuate,’” Harvey told CTV News Channel from the deck of his home, with high flood waters clear in the background. Maugerville is on the west bank of the Saint John River about 20 kilometres southeast of Fredericton.

“So at that point I knew this wasn’t any emergency officials. I had locked the doors the night before and they don’t come into your house unless you get them to come into your house or unless they’re doing a rescue.”

Harvey says he jumped out of bed and yelled.

“At that point, the rats started scurrying out my back door.”

Harvey ran down the stairs to his back door and could hear the men splashing through the water outside. He jumped up on the deck of his pool and saw three masked men in a canoe trying to make a hasty retreat. Harvey ran inside for his camera and managed to snap a grainy photo.

The alleged thieves didn’t take anything, clearly surprised to find a six-foot, 200-pound-plus man in the house, says Harvey.

He called the West District RCMP in Oromocto and then called neighbours to warn them the would-be thieves were heading downriver. Within half an hour, residents had eyes on them.

RCMP, the fire department, and local forest rangers soon had boats in the water.

“After a brief, slow boat chase -- how Canadian is that? -- they had the guys and they ended up in jail last night,” said Harvey. He doesn’t believe the men could be local, since Harvey has been doing regular media hits about the flooding and everyone in the area knows he stayed behind.

Harvey says he’s asked why he stayed put even though he is in the evacuation zone “and one of the reasons is that we have to take care of each other’s property. There are farm animals that need to be taken care of, plants and greenhouses and whatnot. And this instance right here.”

Harvey says the incident has rattled people already on edge from the flooding.

RCMP confirmed in a press release Sunday night that three suspects, two aged 29 and one 25, were arrested Sunday at about 6:45 a.m. and remain in custody.

On Monday, the three suspects appeared in a provincial court in Burton, N.B.

Brandon Hatchard, 29, of Perth-Andover, N.B, Travis Hunt, 29, of Maugerville, N.B. and Chance Leslie, 25, of Middle Hainesville, N.B have all been charged with break and enter and possession of stolen property. Leslie has also been charged with breach of probation.

None of the allegations against them have been proven in court.

Meanwhile, water levels in the southern half of New Brunswick are expected to continue to rise slowly over the next few days, before receding late in the week. There are emerging concerns about sewage contamination of the water.