Coquitlam Centre was partially evacuated Monday evening after a fleeing shoplifter dropped a canister of pepper spray that went off inside the mall.
Nobody was hurt in the incident, which occurred at around 4 p.m., but police said the air was contaminated, making it difficult for shoppers to breathe.
"The alleged thief had stolen a smart watch," said Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin. "As the suspect was running away, he dropped the canister of pepper spray, which deployed."
No arrests have been made and police are still investigating the theft. The mall was re-opened about an hour after the incident.