We knew next to nothing and had to live with rumours as the fear for our own children grew. Was Tori still alive?

Part 4

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception”.  Aldous Huxley, English Novelist, 1894-1963

 This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK,

ON  May 4, 2012   Terri-Lynne McClintic had pleaded guilty to the murder of Tori Stafford and her boyfriend was now on trial for the same offence.  The prosecution and the defence have rested their cases and are now into their address to the jury after which a judge will charge the jury and they will then deliberate.  A murder trial that has consumed Woodstock is coming to a close.  Getting to this point has taken years.  Martha Maloney has been a community based observer of all this and she tells the story from her perspective.  We pick up that story in the early stages of the case.

Tori Stafford was taken from her school where she was normally picked up by her brother. Other than some grainy video film we never got to see her again.

It’s human nature to want answers. And when there is a lack of it, then we humans create a theory or supposition. And in a case like the disappearance of Tori Stafford the fear of the situation, the dire need for answers, for her family and for the community, certainly fueled this basic human nature.

Suspicions about Tori’s parents’ involvement began to fly almost immediately. Within four days of Tori’s disappearance they were subjected to polygraph tests and questioning. To be a parent of a missing child is difficult enough, but to be considered suspect in your own child’s abduction is beyond comprehension. Yet that is what happened, with a heavy emphasis placed on Tori’s mother, Tara McDonald. Rodney Stafford, Tori’s father seemed to be spared further scrutiny once he had completed the polygraph.

Tara was first considered as a suspect in Tori’s disappearance early in the case. Speculation ignited over the grainy security camera footage obtained from the local high school that bordered Oliver Steven’s, Tori’s school. Similarities between the “person of interest” caught on tape and Tara were noted throughout the community. Comments turned more harsh when Tara began appearing at media conferences wearing a white coat. Many in Woodstock felt that at the very least, this was in poor taste. Ignoring the possibility that it may not have occurred as inappropriate to Tara given her state, many in the community began to paint Tara as a villain.

All the community and the police had was this grainy piece of video footage.

Then unexpectedly, late in April there was a brief reprieve from Tara’s vilification. Photos from the candlelight vigil held for Tori at the IGA plaza parking lot on April 12th started to surface.  And in them a woman was sited, and she had a remarkable resemblance to the composite sketch that police had issued on April 21st. The likeness between the two was uncanny. People got excited. This woman’s picture was posted on some of the local blogs with comments hoping police were looking into this. Nothing ever evolved from this though. We can only suppose the police investigated and found nothing.

On April 28th, 2009 Tara drew attention back to herself when she came forth to the media and police with the incredulous story of a mysterious benefactor who supposedly approached Tara with an offering to fund a $50,000 reward for information on Tori’s whereabouts. The story entailed a clandestine meeting in a hotel that she was somehow chauffeured by limo to without tipping off the press surrounding her house. It was like a page torn out of a modern day action flick- except this was real life. These things just don’t happen. Maybe Tara offered this up as a means of pulling the heat of the public eye off of her, but it only served to exacerbate things. Her credibility was called into question, and it renewed gossip and rumours that she must somehow be involved.

On May 8th, Tara’s family took a further hit when it was revealed by Tara herself that police have searched the homes of Tara’s half-brother and his mother in Calgary. She also advised the media her home computers had been seized by police. While none of it was proof of anything, many of us in Woodstock, me included, were starting to think, where there is smoke, there is usually fire. And there was plenty of smoke to go around. Not only were they looking at Tara, but now members of her family. What would draw police to Calgary? Something must have got their attention.

To further incite the masses, the beginning of May brought details of Tara’s drug use and drug connections. The rumours of her usage were now fact and Tara herself admitted to the suspected habit. This shifted suspicion slightly, causing people to theorize that Tori was taken to enforce or settle an unpaid drug debt. While Tara was no longer considered “hands on” involved, she was still tied to the notion as the instigator of events – so guilt by association.

Tori and her brother; often inseparable.

So there we were, already in the middle of May and the only thing we had was a whole lot of accusation and innuendo flying around. Tori had been missing for 37 days and the only thing to report was maybe it was the Mom. There was no hard evidence and not a single trace of Tori. No single piece of hard evidence had surfaced. A grainy video was as close as we got and that, in reality, showed nothing more than someone talking to Tori. Hardly damning evidence.

Frustration levels grew in the city and I was now beginning to believe that Tori was dead. As a mother I didn’t want to lose hope but I am also a realist. Child disappears, no physical evidence,  let’s face it, she was either dead or taken for the purposes of human trafficking. Either way Tori would never be seen again. I felt so guilty for thinking it, so much so that when asked of my opinion I often glazed over it. Hard for an opinionated person like me. But the city was so sensitive to the case I was afraid to offend anyone.

The police were also a sensitive topic with support falling on both sides of the fence. With no hard evidence, what did they have to offer? Did they know more than were saying? Was there as little development in this case as we the public were lead to believe? We were soon to find out….

 Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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It was a name we all now knew and a face we would recognize in an instant – but we didn’t know where she was and we were all afraid.

Part 3:

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth  Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTCOK, Ontario May 1, 2012    The first degree murder trial of Michael Rafferty, had been moved to London, Ontario.  Terri-Lynne McClintic had already pleaded guilty to the murder of Tori Stafford.   The prosecution has made their case against Rafferty – his defence counsel has said Rafferty will not testify and that they will call just the one witness.  The trial will move to its closing phase by the end of the week. But back in 2009 we were at the beginning of the story of this horrendous crime and it is important to understand what the community was going through.

The pictures of a cute 8 year old child now missing had captivated the community. It was to get worse.

On the first full day she was missing her name was Victoria Stafford and the Woodstock girl’s face was emblazoned on flyers and all over television.  The media broadcast the typical missing person description: 5’4” tall, 62 lbs. with blue eyes and short blonde hair. Last seen wearing a green shirt, denim skirt , black and white shoes and a black Hannah Montana jacket with white fur-lined hood;  possibly carrying a pink and purple Bratz bag. And that was all we knew of the missing child.

Over the next couple of days Victoria became “Tori”- the affectionate short-form of her name that her family and school mates called her. The police and media gave us the cute tender little insights to Tori in an attempt to humanize her, presumably to entice her abductors into releasing her. We learned Tori was just like other girls her age. She was a precocious, inquisitive child whose favourite colour was purple.  Tori liked puppies and butterflies. She was caring and had a tight relationship with her eleven year old brother Dylan.

The appeal did not work on Tori’s abductors but it certainly did on Woodstock. In a few days the community had adopted Tori as their own, many giving freely of their time, volunteering in the search for the lost little girl. She was the topic of daily conversations; ‘Have you heard the updates from the police? Who do you think took her?  Do you think we will find her?’ Everyone had a theory or a tid-bit to tell. All of us hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

A Mother with a serious drug problem, separated from the Father of her children struggled to keep some semblance of sanity in her life faced a community that for a time suspected her.

I did not personally know Tori Stafford, or her parents, Tara McDonald or Rodney Stafford. I knew people who knew them, or knew of them.  The theories, viewpoints and gossip that spun, sometimes out of control, throughout Woodstock during her disappearance, are that of the community.  We were all lost, terrified, devastated.

As the days of searching dragged on, new information about Tori’s home life started to tell us a lot more about this little girl. Mainly about her home life and the type of relationship she had with her parents and brother. This little girl, that most people in the city did not know before her abduction, was now becoming someone whose home life and the intimate details of her family’s situation was being talked about by everyone.  There was no shortage of sympathy or worry for her.

The first thing that came to light was that Tori was not staying with either parent at the time she was abducted. She and brother Daryn had been living with their maternal grandmother, Linda Winters. It had yet to be fully explained why this was the case, though one might surmise it has something to do with Tara’s issues.

Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, was living with her boyfriend James Goris and had actually just moved to a new place a week before Tori’s abduction. Many in the community have theorized that Tara’s addiction to the painkiller Oxycontin is the reason for her childrens alternate living arrangements.

Tara had been known in the community for her drug use; it was hardly a secret. Whether Tara had moved the kids in with her mother because she knew she was not able to look after them while battling her drug addiction or if the drug addiction left no room for the children in her immediate world was heavily debated in the community.  There was more than enough “judgement” going around to satisfy everyone.

Whatever the reason, it was clear there was some kind of disconnect between Tara and her children before Tori disappeared.

Tori's Father, absent from much of his daughters life, struggled in his own way with the suspicion within the community.

Rodney Stafford, Tori’s and Daryn’s father was less familiar to the community.  According to Tara, Rodney was an absentee father, frequently missing set visits with the children. The rumours throughout the community seem to echo a similar sentiment, however Rodney was not talking- neither confirming nor denying the rumours.

And finally there was Daryn, Tori’s older brother. The media and talk in the city has never disputed the fact that Tori and her brother were close and loved each other very much. They squabbled from time to time as all siblings do, but they always made up. Daryn always walked his sister home from school, save that fateful day.

The community now knew that Tori was a normal kid, just like yours, just like mine.  We knew too that her parents were working through their issues and that Tori and her brother were not living with either parent but with their maternal grandparent.

We were now into day five and there is nothing for the public to begin to come to terms with.  Where was she, who was feeding her, was she alive?  She had just disappeared and no one seemed to be able to do anything.  The police were not giving the public the kind of information they needed.

Tori and her brother Daryn were close to inseparable. He used to walk her to school and pick her up after class. On that fateful day in 2009 - he didn't pick her up.

Sometimes it`s easier when we can point to something to explain this type of tragedy, maybe the child had run away or is high on drugs and hiding. But Tori did nothing, nothing but be a normal 8 year old.  Woodstock would have to deal with its grief and wait sometime for closure to come to the city.

Meanwhile the suspicions were mounting and the spotlight kept coming back to the parents – but no one could figure out who the woman in the white puffy jacket is and what role this played in the abduction.

It was going to get even more confusing.

Part 3 of a multi-part series.

Click on the link for part 2

Click on this link for part 1

 

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Woodstock slept without knowing where the missing eight year old was. We hoped against hope she would be found by morning

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

 

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, Ontario   April 26, 2012    Day two.  Woodstock slept while the Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) worked on a lead. In typical TV detective style, they retraced Tori’s steps attempting to pin-point the spot from which she was taken. Figuring out the approximate direction and timing of Tori’s movements, police began looking for a witness.

All the community had was a grainy picture of a woman in a white puffy coat with a little girl walking along beside her.

After questioning several people who had been in the area that day, police came across video footage  captured from a security camera located at College Avenue Secondary School, a local high school a mere 200 yards away from Tori’s own school, Oliver Stephens. Examination of the grainy video showed Tori walking home from school at 3:32pm,  – she was not alone. Walking with Tori was a young woman, approximately 5’1”- 5’2” tall, weighing 120-125lbs with straight long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. The woman was wearing a puffy white jacket and dark pants.

Tori did not appear in distress, nor did it appear she was being forced into going with this woman. OCPS didn’t know what they were looking at. Was this a friend? Was this someone who merely fell in step with an child and had a one-time conversation? Or was this Tori’s abductor? Rodney Stafford and Tara McDonald, Tori’s parents were brought in to view the hazy footage.  Both of them left the station declaring they did not recognize the woman. In the hopes of getting the woman in the video to come forward police took to calling her a “person of interest” rather than a suspect.

The details spilled over the radio as I was getting ready for work. Twelve hours after Tori’s disappearance there was finally a real lead. But a woman- that I did not expect! When I learned of Tori’s disappearance I had subconsciously assumed she had been taken by a man. Did this woman take Tori? Why would a woman take an 8 year old little girl? And most importantly, who was this woman?

 

Police posters went up throughout the city. Volunteers took part in searches.

On April 10th, two days after Tori went missing, OCPS began conducting ground searches in the city with the aid of volunteers from the community. They searched through backyards and park areas, any spot a child could possibly be hiding. Volunteers were sent door to door asking to check backyards, dog runs, garages- no stone was left unturned. K-9 units, helicopters, trained Search & Rescue were all brought in. I still have vivid memories of the helicopters hovering low over the city.

On day two of the search, Woodstock Mayor Michael Harding announced that police departments from other communities had offered to help look for Tori. By now though, things were taking a more ominous tone. The searches so far had yielded no new information on Tori’s whereabouts and people were really starting to worry. Fears that we might not find Tori alive or at all began to creep into people’s thoughts. Parents began to actively wonder if a predator was on the loose and children found themselves facing tighter restrictions on their whereabouts.

With the assistance of the other communities, leads began to pour in. No matter how small, each one was diligently followed up. But even with all this effort and thousands of kilometres searched there was still no sign of Tori, or any clues to where she was or what had happened to her.

With no answers forthcoming, people in Woodstock began building and grasping at theories to explain away what had happened to Tori. And it didn’t take long for the rumour to surface that the woman in the video was possibly Tori’s own mother Tara McDonald. A really good look at that video footage clearly showed that the woman in the video was shorter and thinner than Tara but that did little to quash the rumours.

Woodstock was obsessed with anything about Tori and what could have happened to her.   Whispering about both parents became the emerging trend amongst Woodstonians, and came to a head when Rodney and Tara were subjected to polygraph tests April 12,  4 days after Tori’s disappearance.   When police declined to comment on the results of the polygraph, citizens’ tongues really began to wag and the rumour mill was out of control.

Later that evening, 1000 residents of Woodstock gathered in the IGA parking lot located in the centre of town, along with Tori’s family and held a candlelight vigil. The family thanked the citizens of Woodstock for their support and help in trying to find Tori.

It was now Day 5.  She was only eight years old and my home town was terrified.

Part 2 of a multi-part series.

Click on the link for part 1

 

 

 

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They are persistent and once they get their hooks into you – it`s like trying to get a fish hook out of your finger: messy and painful.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 27, 2012  One of the things about crooks and thieves is that when they come across a good idea that pulls in all kinds of suckers, they use it over and over and over.  They will quit only when people stop responding to the scam.

With cyber-crime there is little risk – the people doing much of this cyber identity theft are on the other side of the world and while international level police forces are getting better at pursuing and catching them – it is going to be a long time before we see any arrests.  One defence is software we can use to filter them out – but the best defence is checking everything that comes to your screen.

My wife goes over the tape the supermarket cashier gives her – it would never occur to me to look at the take; it`s all bar coded isn’t it – so where could anything go wrong.  Well bar codes aren’t perfect.

The face you think you see - the email address you think you see - may not be coming from the people you think it is coming from. Watch carefully every time.

Earlier this week we alerted you to a scam we came across  – turns out that this good idea has been taken up by others and now Amazon and Twitter are being exploited.

We got the following related to our Twitter account:

Our system detected unusual activity associated with your account.
Your account may be temporarily suspended for violations of the Twitter Rules.
We suspend accounts for investigation if we suspect an account has been hacked or compromised.

You need to confirm your email address to regain access to your account.
Once you regain access, you will be able to request a new password for your Twitter account.

You can find information on following automations and permitted following behaviors on the help page:
https://support.twitter.com/

The email address this message came from was

Twitter <c-nfxzlxr=znvy-ba.hf-ae0dc@postmaster.twitler.com

Take a careful look at that address – notice they have spelled Twitter as twitler – and that my friends is not the same.

Also the use of English is awkward and that is always a tell tale sign.

We have a Twitter account – we don`t use it very much – so undue activity was the first clue,  but had we been using the Twitter account heavily we just may have responded.  With the cyber crooks out there ready to do anything they can to steal your identity, you do need to be vigilant.

The same day we got a notice about our Amazon account.  We have in the past bought items from Amazon but recently we have supported the local bookstore – A Different Drummer – so we know the Amazon notice was a fake as well.  Here is what we got from them:

We received a request to reset the password associated with this e-mail address. Please follow the instructions below.

Click the link below to complete or cancel request using our secure server:

https://www.amazon.com/ap/forgotpassword?arb=84a424dc-5467-b5de-c0a4-8e65672465a4

If clicking the link doesn’t seem to work, you can copy and paste the link into your browser’s address window, or retype it there.

Amazon.com will never e-mail you and ask you to disclose or verify your Amazon.com password, credit card, or banking account number. Thanks for visiting Amazon.com!

Sounds pretty legitimate.  But take a careful look at the way amazon is spelled in the domain name part of the email address they used.

See the double m.

Amazon.com account-update@amazomm.com

I don’t think that is Amazon trying to tell me something.  I think those guys are crooks trying to get information from me.

What do you think?

 

 

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It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone. It had happened in Woodstock and we were stunned.

This series is a first person account, told by a parent who has lived through the fear and pain that rocked Woodstock when an eight year old girl was abducted on her way home from school and subsequently murdered.  Elizabeth Maloney takes us through each step of the ordeal and starts with: A girl the same age as my daughter – is missing, she didn’t get home after school. The worry sets in. No longer can a parent feel reassured by the spotlight of safety once provided by broad daylight. Things are different now.  It can happen anytime, anywhere, and the most gut-wrenching of all; to anyone.

By Elizabeth Maloney

WOODSTOCK, ON   April 27, 2012  It started as just another day on that fateful April 8, 2009. It was so much like every other day I don’t even remember how it began. It was a Wednesday, so I would have dropped my then 8year old off at school and then headed into the office. My day would have passed along , predictably and without incident- or at least I assume so. Even if something exciting had happened that day, it was long forgotten; overshadowed by the events that transpired that night.

All we had was a picture of a cute kid who we knew nothing about other than that she was missing. It just got worse and worse.

To this day, I can’t remember how I learned of the disappearance of Tori Stafford. I know a good friend had sent me an email about the missing girl, but I can’t remember if it was before or after the news bite I heard on the radio during my drive home that night. Either way, it instantly had my attention.  I was born and raised in Woodstock and have strong ties to the community through family and friends.   No matter where you go, you always know where home is.

Now I know what you are thinking. Children are taken every day, why the anxiety over this particular child? You have to understand that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in Woodstock.  And when it does, the entire city will be talking about it; they move into a collective state of shock and then the fear begins to take over.

I called a few friends that night. Coming from a small city I knew there was a very good chance that someone close to me knew the family of the little girl. It only took a couple of calls to learn the disturbing details. A little girl, about my daughter’s age, disappeared while walking home from school that day.  She went missing earlier in the day and there was a delay in reporting it to police, although no one could explain why. And the police weren’t saying much at all.

This is when the questions began about the Amber Alert. It was a recurring theme throughout the various conversations that night. Why hadn’t the Oxford Community Police Services (OCPS) issued one? They had a missing child on their hands and it only seemed prudent to get this information out as far and as fast as they could. What was holding them back? Was there something they weren’t telling us? With no communication from police on what was happening, we, the community were left in the dark.

At the end of the day Tori was still very fresh on my mind. I tried to be positive, but let’s face it; no one takes kids off the street to feed them ice cream and tuck them into a warm bed. The grim reality is that children are snatched for sinister reasons and that pervading fear would not leave my head that night. I didn’t want to think negatively but my heart was heavy with the knowledge of what had happened to other children who were taken. The sad part is, at this point, I was actually hoping one of her parents had taken her. I thought it gave her the best chance for survival.

Before heading to bed that night I looked in on my daughter.  As I watched her sleep from the bedroom doorway, my mind flashed back to when she was 6 years old and she disappeared one morning before school.  I’ll spare you all the details but to give you an idea, the police were called and the neighbours started looking for her.  She was found safe and sound 25 minutes later.

It was hands down, the most horrible experience of my entire life. And she had only been missing for 25 horrible minutes! At this point Tori had been gone almost 10 hours. I could suddenly feel the same overwhelming tightness in my chest that I had felt for my daughter when I didn`t know where she was.  I couldn’t imagine how her parents were coping. I had the solace of knowing my daughter was safe. They had no such reassurance.

That is the point where Tori and my daughter became tied together in my mind. The two of them shared so much in common: they were the same age, from the same city and had at one point lived within walking distance of each other. These two would have easily been fast friends.

Part 1 of a multi-part series.

 

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Thieves think they have their Modus Operandi down cold – they target ATM machines in out of the way locations. Do you know these guys?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 25, 2012   On a Saturday evening last April 14th at 9:15 p.m. two suspects broke into the Harvester Medical Centre, located at 3155 Harvester Road, Burlington.  The suspects are believed to have entered through the west doors of the building.   Once inside the suspects broke open an ATM and stole the cash contents.

The suspects are believed to be responsible for at least three other Burlington commercial entries dating back to November, 2011. ATMs are always targeted.

Suspect #1 – male, white, 6’2” 225 – 240 lbs.

Suspect #2 – male, white, 5’8, 180 lbs. Carrying a black backpack.

Both suspects were dressed entirely in black clothing, with gloves and balaclavas.  Police are appealing to the public for information on any suspicious vehicles or persons observed near the site of the incident on the date and time mentioned.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Be very, very careful about this one. Major attempt at identity theft via a Facebook message

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON    April 25, 2012  The email message started out nicely enough. Hello, it said.  And it was from The Facebook Team.  Given that I`m a Facebook user – I read the message.

Here`s what it said:

The Facebook account associated with pepper@mcsops.com was recently changed.

If you were not the one who changed this account, please visit our Help Center to cancel the request.

Please note: for your protection, this email has been sent to all the email addresses associated with your Facebook account.

https://www.facebook.com/

Thanks,

The Facebook Team

Cyber thieves can collect bits and pieces of information about you and create an online identity that says it's you but isn't you - and they can do a lot of damage. Be vigilant.

Hmm, I wondered – I didn’t change my Facebook password.  Then I looked at who the email actually came from.  Pay close attention to the line that follows.

notification+pepper@facebookmeil.com

That is who supposedly sent me the message.  Check the spelling  – notice it says facebookmeil.com

The message didn’t come from Facebook at all – it came from somebody who got their hands on a list of email addresses and sent the same email to millions of people.  Those that responded will have been pulled into a process that begins gathering information on them – and when they get enough they can begin to impersonate you.  Imagine if someone got into your Facebook page and started rummaging around there.

If you get the message – ignore it.  And pass this story along to every friend you have.

These crooks are going to do a lot of damage with this identity theft attempt.

 

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Thieves rob woman inside Admiral Inn on Billings Court – did security cameras capture the theft?

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 23, 2012   A 31-year-old woman in Burlington on business escaped injury after being robbed of her possessions in a Burlington hotel room.

Just after 11:30 pm,  last Sunday, the woman met with an unknown man in a hotel room at the Admiral Inn, 3500 Billings Court, Burlington.

As the man opened the door to leave, two other men barged into the room.  One of the men held the woman down on the bed, while the other two rummaged through the room.

The men stole electronic devices and a quantity of cash. Halton Police Investigate Robbery at Burlington Hotel

SUSPECT #1 – white, 24-25 years, 5’6″, clean shaven, skinny, short spiky hair

SUSPECT #2 – white, 25-30 years, short brown hair (armed with a baseball bat)

SUSPECT #3 – black, 30-32 years, average build, possibly wearing a coat and had scarf around his neck

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

 

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The pickings were really easy so a pair of petty thieves went from car door to car door – opened those that weren’t locked and took.

By Staff

The petty thieves must just love Burlington – all they have to do is walk up and down the streets and look for open car doors – and they are apparently finding dozens of them.

Last Thursday, an off-duty employee of the Halton Regional Police Service observed two young males on bicycles checking car doors in the area of Janina Boulevard and Humphreys Crescent, Burlington at 4 am in the morning.

Uniformed officers were dispatched to the area and located the youths near Brant Street and the QEW.  The officers noticed one of the males was wearing clear plastic gloves and they were brought into custody.

Further investigation revealed that the males had been checking and entering unlocked cars in multiple locations throughout the night.  Small items such as GPS units, an IPOD, cell phones, jewellery, a camera, loose change and miscellaneous items were taken from the vehicles.

At least four victims have been identified residing on Glendor Avenue, Bluefields Drive, Treeland Street and Esther Drive, yet police have recovered other property they are unable to attribute to its proper owner.

If you realized something was missing from your car – try the Halton Regional Police Service at 905-825-4777; they just might have your stuff in one of their property lockers.  And lock the car please..  When the petty thieves realize that Burlingtonians lock their cars they`ll stop looking.  Leaving your car unlocked just encourages them – and they always look for the easy pickings.

Paul Griffith-Willetts, 18 years, from Hamilton is charged with Theft Under $5000, Possession of Stolen Property and Failing to Comply with a  Probation Order.

A 16-year-old youth from Hamilton is also charged with Theft Under $5000 and Possession of Stolen Property.

 

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Racist graffiti painted on the walls of St. Patrick Elementary School on Kenwood Drive.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  APRIL 19, 2012  Sometime over the weekend of March 6th, someone snuck onto the grounds of St Patrick’s Elementary School located at 200 Kenwood Drive and spray painted racist graffiti on the brick walls.

Despite the immediate removal of the graffiti the school was targeted three weeks in a row.  While the property damage is bad enough, it is the thinking behind the spraying of racists graffiti on a school that is the most troubling.

School targeted with racist graffiti - three weeks in a row

If caught early enough the behaviour can be corrected.  If left to fester in the minds of whoever did this – it can lead to things like the trial going on in Norway where a racist individual committed a horrendous crime.

Catch it now before it gets out of hand.  The person behaving like a racist learned this behavior somewhere – he or she didn`t pick it up from a doorknob.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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Four Arrested in $16 Million Investment Scam. Remember the Best Way to Help Stop Fraud Is to Report It.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 11, 2012  The Fraud Unit of the Halton Regional Police Service,  with the assistance of the Ontario Securities Commission,  has completed an 18 month investigation into the following companies, North American Carrier Services, Hillcorp International Services, Hillcorp Wealth Management, Suncorp Holdings (no relation to Suncor Energy), Exxon Holdings (no relation to Exxon Mobil) and Petro Properties (no relation to Petro Holdings).

The investigation resulted in the arrest of four individuals in relation to a $16 million investment scam that duped approximately 150 investors who were led to believe the investments they made were poised to generate large profits over a short period of time.  The loss to investors has reached $8 million.

Money doesn't grow on trees and fabulous returns are rare - ask questions and try to stifle the greed.

The investigation into the investment companies revealed that investors were told the companies were investing in offshore oil securities.   Using names very similar to well know multi-nationals, investors were probably thinking they were with a solid organization.

Financial Planners are required to file documents showing that they know their clients and fully understand their clients financial needs and their tolerance for risk.  Investors need to make sure they know who they are dealing with – and if the deal they are offered sounds to good to be true – that’s because it was too good to be true.

The following individuals have been charged:

Paul DiNardo (52 yrs) of Burlington, charged with Fraud Over $5000 (two counts); Money Laundering (two counts); Possession of Proceeds of Crime (two counts).  Presently in custody next court date April 13th 2012

Rita DiNardo (64 yrs) of Milton is charged with Fraud Over $5000; Money Laundering, Possession of Proceeds of Crime. Next court date April 23rd 2012

Danny DeMelo (43 yrs) of Milton is charged with Fraud Over $5000, Money Laundering, Possession of Proceeds of Crime, Next Court date April 23rd 2012

Steven John Hill (52 yrs) of Burlington is charged with Fraud Over $5000, Money Laundering, Possession of Proceeds of Crime.  He is presently in custody next court date April 12th 2012

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation or other persons who may have been victimized are asked to contact Detective Constable Mallinson, Regional Fraud Unit, 905 825-4747 x8740, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

 

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Why would you leave a door unlocked – hope your insurance agent doesn’t read this. Hope police delivered a short lecture as well.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  April 5, 2012   Halton Regional Police Service were called to investigate a break and enter to a local residence in Burlington.

They learned that sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on April 2nd, unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a home located on Lampman Avenue. The suspect(s) rummaged through the house and stole an undisclosed amount of cash.

The police also learned that the door the thieves went through was “unlocked”.

When thieves find even one home with an unlocked door they convince themselves that there are other homes with doors unlocked – and they prowl around until they fine one.  Lock your doors.

Anyone with information on this or any other crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637 (crimes).

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Pilot service is a cross between a paddy wagon and an ambulance – that will get young people home safely.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  April 4, 2012  You can still see the geek in the guy as he talks about a pilot project that will help get the young rowdies off the street when Burlington`s downtown bars close at around two in the morning.  The service Scott Wallace of Burlington Taxi is developing is about as non-tech as you can get and is best described as something between a paddy wagon and an ambulance.

Scott Wallace, a software developer before he got into the taxi business – and there is a connection between the two – at least there was for Wallace, appeared before a Council committee asking the city to go along with him on a pilot project that would provide a service allowing young people who have had too much to drink to be able to drive, and perhaps not enough cash in their pocket to pay for a cab and not prepared to give the parents a call,

The 15 passenger van will serve as a cross between a paddy wagon and an ambulance and will charge $7 to get the rowdies home - safely.

The service that will run as a pilot from early May to late August will consist of two vans that can hold up to 15 passengers each.  One will make an eastern run while the other handles the western side of the city.  While the details are still being worked out,  the thinking is to have a couple of spots where young people can gather and know, that is where the van will be to drive them home.  The trip home will cost $7.

Something in the order of 300 people pour out onto the streets at 2:00 am – the challenge is to clear the area as quickly as possible which means getting them into vehicles they aren’t driving before they do any serious damage.

Getting those with too much beer in their belly`s off the streets of the downtown core has been a challenge.  Attempts to put this kind of a service in place during a previous administration at city hall didn’t get much past square one.  This Council seems quite prepared to encourage the pilot and listen to the proposal, which has the backing of the Restaurant Association and the Burlington Downtown Business Association.

Wallace is very quick to make the point that “this service is not THE solution to the problem – it is part of the solution, or at least he thinks so and he is prepared to put some time an energy into the idea.

Are there risks involved?  There certainly are.  The kids that will use this service may have been Boy Scouts or Girl

World headquarters for the 50 car + Burlington Taxi fleet. Gearing up to provide a service that will get the bar closing crowd home cheaply and safely.

Guides when they were younger but with far more beer in them than makes any sense they become noisy and tend to want to topple mail boxes and pull shrubs from front lawns – usually after trying to water the plants – if you know what I mean.

“For the most part they are decent kids – just out having their version of a good time and they have to be accommodated”, explains Wallace who lives in the downtown core and is often out for a walk late in the evening and is fully aware of how much noise this crowd creates.  He sees it as part of life in a city that has a part of town where there are bars and clubs.

Possible pick up spot for the bar closing crowd - they're open until 3 am Friday and Saturday.

The disruption created by these young people gets heard at Council committee meetings about once a month – the interesting thing is that no one mentions the one obvious and cost effective solution.  Put more police on the street walking a beat in the bar area.  There is nothing that settles a noisy, drunken youth down faster than a big beefy cop within sight.  It would take four officers walking a small area for a couple of hours to settle things.  Many people comment about the lack of adequate police service but that’s about as far as it goes.  Just talk.  Might the city of Burlington not petition the Regional Police Chief for more “feet on the street”?

Will there be bouncers in the vans ? – no says Wallace “but every vehicle has a camera that runs all the time as well as two way sound – so if there is a problem the action gets captured on video and the dispatcher knows instantly and is a button on a phone away from a call to the police.”

Burlington Taxi video footage has been used by Crown Prosecutors in the past – and, as Wallace puts it – some of these kids are not the brightest lights and they don’t realize how much technology we have going for us.

“This service isn’t going to be a money maker for us, says Wallace. “Some of my drivers would rather I didn’t put the vans out on the street – it would leave more of a passenger pool for them”.  Scott thinks the city need a service like this that gets kids out of the core quickly – in this case 15 at a time in each direction – that’s 30 kids that aren’t whooping it up on the streets.

“We are just a part of the solution” says Wallace.  “We need buses out on the street but the people at transit haven’t been able to meet this need” – bus service ends at 11:00 pm in Burlington.  Burlington Taxi feels it can meet part of the need.

Which is what Scott Wallace is really all about.  He talks about community service, social responsibility and adds “this is a great town”.  I’m doing my bit to keep it that way.

Wallace created, developed and then sold a software development company that focused on taxi dispatching and vehicle tracking.  “We’ve got GPS in every vehicle and software that allows us to log every trip and the revenue it produces which enables us to run a tight operation.”  That operation is a fleet of more than fifty cabs, most painted a bright yellow you can’t miss.

The bar crowd special - probably all cash fares but plastic is accepted.

Burlington is a little different than many cities in that it has just corporate taxi operations – there are no independent operators.  Wallace explains that a cab from Hamilton can drop off a fare but they aren’t supposed to pick up within Burlington and they don’t take calls from the city.  This corporate fleet approach gives the city tighter control over the taxi business – rates are approved by the city.

Wallace continues to go to taxi conventions and is in touch with the industry – knows where the new ideas are being tried out and what can and usually cannot work.  “People always want us to put more cabs on the street to meet those rush periods – but that doesn’t make economic sense.  While every car is not out on the road every hour – the objective is to keep every cab out for as long as possible.”

Scott Wallace is one of those people who arrived in Burlington before the age of ten and while he has been away for periods of time growing his career he has always come back and can’t understand why anyone would want to live anywhere else.

Wallace says: “We’ve done the research and we are pretty sure this will work.  We feel it’s certainly worth a pilot project.”   And we will know next week if city council sees it the same way.  Wallace got past the committee stage quite easily.

 

 

 

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Predators are still out there. Caution your children and think about giving them a whistle.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 30, 2012  On March 28th at 3:40 p.m. a ten-year-old boy was walking east along Blairholm Ave, approaching Courtland Dr., in Burlington when he saw a truck driving along beside him at his pace.  It was 3:40 in the afternoon on Wednesday.  The boy reported the next day that the driver of the vehicle lowered the passenger window and asked the boy if he wanted a drive home. When the offer was refused the driver then asked where the boy lived. The boy continued walking. The truck followed for another few second, made a U-turn, and was last seen westbound along Blairholm Ave.

The driver in this incident is described as male, white, tanned complexion, 30s, 5’9” – 6’0” tall, large build, medium length hair, and goatee. He was wearing a brown shirt with a gold coloured logo.

The vehicle is described as a black, older model, extended cab, pick-up truck – possibly a Ford F150. The truck had several dents and scratches along the passenger side and was generally in poor condition.

Give them a whistle - Kids might think it silly - until they are frightened and pull it out and use it

Parents might caution their children, do so carefully, that they should not accept rides from strangers and if they are being followed to slip into a store or a place where there are other people.  Parents might want to give their children one of those Foxcroft whistles – there are inexpensive plastic ones available.  If there is any doubt about their safety just take out the whistle and blow like crazy.

Nothing scares predators like the sound of a whistle.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2385, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

 

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Several men don’t seem to know how to appropriately get the attention they want.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON March 27, 2012  On Saturday March 24 at 11:00 a.m., a woman was seated in her parked car getting ready to leave the YMCA lot, 500 Drury Lane, Burlington.  Just prior to the woman leaving, a man pulled up in his car, exited, and started a conversation with the woman. The man seemed to be expressing some romantic interests.  The woman declined the advances and the man got into his car and drove away without issue.

The following morning the woman discovered a note on the windshield of her car, that had been parked in a Burlington residential driveway all night. The note made reference to the encounter that had occurred the day prior. The note contained information that strongly suggested the woman was being stalked (Criminal Harassment) by the same man.

The man who approached the woman in the parking lot is being sought as a person of interest in relation to this investigation.  He is described as male, black, 30-35 years, stocky build. He is thought to be driving an older model dark blue or black VW Passat, Volvo or other similarly styled vehicle.

Earlier in the week police reported they had received a complaint about a male committing an indecent act while standing inside his residence, in front of a window and in public view.

The police arrested Anthony MATTHEWS, 51 of Burlington and charged him with Criminal Harassment, Commit an Indecent Act and Breach of Probation.  Matthew was held in custody for a bail hearing.

Anyone with information that would assist in this investigation is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 275637(crimes).

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Police closing in on robbers who held up a Burlington youth at knifepoint in Brant Hills community.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 27, 2012  Halton Regional Police investigators have now determined the thieves who robbed a twelve year old girl, who was with a 12 year old girlfriend, of her iPod in the area of Duncaster Drive and Melissa Crescent, Burlington (Brant Hills Park), on March 18th,  fled the area on a motorcycle that had been parked at the Brant Hills Community Centre.  The motorcycle was being driven by suspect #1.

The motorcycle is described as a sport bike, predominantly blue in colour with white in areas.  The motorcycle may have had lightning bolt decals on it.

To be held up ay knife point is terrifying for anyone - for the two twelve years old girls in the Brant Hills community it was life altering.

This is the kind of police investigative work that catches criminals.  The guys who own that bike want to begin worrying.  If you don’t turn yourself in – look for a good criminal lawyer.

The two suspects were described as:

Suspect #1 – Male, black, mid-teens, 6’, thin build very short hair. He was armed with a knife. Clothing description – grey and white patterned cloth jacket and denim pants

Suspect #2 – Male, Latin American, early teens, 5’3”, heavy build, short black hair.  Clothing Description – black hooded sweatshirt, denim pants

Investigators are asking for information about anyone matching the description of the suspects that may own, operate or have access to a motorcycle similar to the one described.  Investigators can be contacted at 905 825-4747 x2343, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

 

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Halton police investigators stick with a home invasion case and break it wide open – arrest three.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON March 22, 2012  Last December 4th, at 1:00  am, three masked men broke into a Faversham Avenue home and stormed the bedroom of one of the residents demanding money and drugs. The victim told the suspects he didn’t have any drugs and the suspects left.  Three other residents were in the home at the time.

The suspects were described as:

White, 5’4” – 5’5,” 120 lbs, wearing all black clothing and white running shoes;

White, 6’4,” thin build, dressed in black and Black, 6’3” – 6”4,” 150 – 160 lbs

Following an extensive investigation by members of the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau, three individuals have been arrested and charged in relation to the home invasion.

Investigative efforts culminated in a search warrant being executed on a London residence on January 9, 2012, the arrest of Jordaine WILSON-CAMPBELL and the recovery of two pellet guns.

The remaining accused have since been arrested, the last of which occurred March 18th.

ACCUSED

Jordaine WILSON-CAMPBELL, 21 years, of London, Facing charges of Robbery, Wear Disguise and Breach of Prohibition Order (weapons)(two counts)

Matthew ROSE, 21 years, of Burlington, Facing charges of Robbery and Wear Disguise

Nicholas ZEMBRZYCKI, 20 years, of Sudbury, Facing charges of Robbery, Wear Disguise

 

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Police report Burlington Youth Robbed at Knife Point in Brant Hills community

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 19, 2012   A twelve-year-old Burlington girl was robbed of her iPod at knife point in the Brant Hills community Sunday evening at 7:00 pm

The victim reported walking with a friend on the sidewalk in the area of Duncaster Drive and Melissa Crescent, Burlington (Brant Hills Park) when the two girls were approached by two teenage suspects. One of the suspects was holding a knife, but made no overt threat. The suspect demanded the iPod and the victim gave it up.

The two suspects were last seen running into Brant Hills Park.

Having someone with a knife in their hands demanding that you give them your property is one of the most terrifying things that can happen. Two 12 year old girls stood in fear in the Brant Hills community as two men robbed them at knife point.

Suspect #1 – Male, black, mid-teens, 6’, thin build very short hair. He was armed with a knife.  Clothing description – grey and white patterned cloth jacket and denim pants

Suspect #2 – Male, Latin American, early teens, 5’3”, heavy build, short black hair.  Clothing Description – black hooded sweatshirt, denim pants.

There are two terrified young girls out there.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905 825-4747 x2315, Crime Stoppers at 1 800 222-TIPS(8477), through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting “Tip201” with your message to 274637(crimes).

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Red light camera in Burlington expected to increases road safety & catch red light runners. $100,000 to install/maintain, not a cash grab.

By Staff

BURLINGTON, ON  March 19, 2012  The first red light camera in Burlington is up and running to remind drivers to stop at red lights. The camera, at Brant Street and Dundas Street, is the first of 12 red light cameras Halton Region is planning to install over the next two years to help improve road safety.

“Residents have told us that they’re very concerned about the issue of red light running in our communities,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “The fact that there’s at least one collision every week in Halton Region caused by a red light runner is not acceptable to us. We want to save lives and make our roads a safer place to be. Running red lights is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.”

Halton Regional Police Chief Gary Crowley, Regional Chair Gary Carr and Mayor Rick Goldring stand at the intersection of Brant and Dundas with signs telling the public that red light runners will be photographed and fined. The cameras that catch you are up and behind these three fine civil servants

With almost half of Halton Region drivers surveyed stating they worry about getting into an accident when driving through an intersection and more than 60% reporting seeing a near-miss accident as a result of someone running a red light, Halton Region has installed two red light cameras – one in Burlington and one in Oakville – to help improve road safety. In 2012 and 2013, Halton will install another 10 red light cameras at strategic intersections throughout the Region.

Cameras are currently located at Dundas Street (Regional Road 5) and Brant Street (Regional Road 18) in the City of Burlington and at Trafalgar Road (Regional Road 3) and Upper Middle Road (Regional Road 38) in the Town of Oakville.

Throughout southern Ontario, red light cameras have reduced personal-injury type accidents, helping to improve the safety of intersections and enhancing quality of life. Cameras take photos of red light runners 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only operate when a vehicle enters the intersection after the light has turned red.

The fine for running a red light is $325. Demerit points are not issued with violations detected by red light cameras.

When you run a red light a picture of your vehicle is taken and downloaded to a processing at Metro Toronto Police who do the processing for all municipalities in Ontario.  Trained officers review every picture and if it is evident that the Highway Traffic Act was breached they mail you a ticket.  Hard to beat when there is a clear photograph of the car going through the red light – so you might want to take your cheque book with you should you decide to fight the ticket.

Halton Regional Police chief Gary Crowel is gearing down and getting ready to move into retirement where he hopes he can get out and do a bit more running. As a chief of police he gets to shuffle a lot of paper and pose for pictures - the actual policing days have slowed down a bit - but they haven't stopped.

The only upside to all this is that you don’t lose demerit points for an offence that was captured by a camera..  If a police office were to issue you a ticket for running a red light you would lose three demerit points.

Of the $325 fine – $265 goes to the city of Burlington and $60 is paid into the Victim Fine Surcharge.  The cameras are on 24/7 and they work in the dark.  The cameras are standard 35mm units and cost about $100,000 annually to install and maintain – so this isn’t a cash grab on the part of the city.  This is part of a program that will hopefully convince drivers to stop for red lights or pay the price if they don’t.

For those who decide to run a red light – you’re lucky if all you get is a fine.  The cost of an accident is much higher.

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First class police work in the Region nabs three robbery suspects. Police charge them with everything they can think of.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 14, 2012  An daylight armed robbery on Brant Street drugstore in February

On February 17th  the Halton Regional Police Service initiated an investigation into a robbery which had occurred at the “Medexpress Pharmacy” located on Brant Street.  During this robbery two suspects threatened the employee with a handgun and left after stealing a quantity of prescription drugs.

On February 23rd another pharmacy robbery took place in Milton at the Derry Pharmacy.  In this instance the  suspects left without obtaining any drugs.

Criminal Investigations Bureau officers from Districts 1 and 3 District  initiated an investigation and determined .  that the two robberies were related to one another.

On March 6th 2012 police arrested two males; Bempong and Drennan.  During a search of the vehicle they were in police discovered a replica handgun which was believed to have been used during the robberies.  With this information police obtained search warrants for the residences of thet two suspects as well as a hotel room they were using.

The locations of the search warrants were as follows:

1) Polonia Avenue, Brampton (Bempong’s residence)

2) 2468 Lower Base Line, Milton (Drennan’s residence)

3) 40 Chisholm Drive, Milton

During the searches investigators recovered some of the prescription drugs that were taken during the robbery.

On March 9th 2012 investigators arrested a third male (Gonsalves) in relation to these robberies.

All three accused were charged and held pending bail hearings.

The men behind bars are:

Fredrick BEMONG (31 years of age) of Brampton charged with Robbery with a firearm x 2;  Point firearm; Weapons dangerous x 2, Wearing a  disguise; Conspiracy to commit indictable offence, Fail to comply with a recognizance and possession of a controlled substance

Graham DRENNAN (29 years of age) of Milton has been charged with Robbery with a firearm, Weapons dangerous, Breach Probation, Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and possession of a controlled substance

Franklin GONSALVES (33 years of age) of Oakville has been charged with Robbery with a firearm, two charges. Weapons dangerous, two charges, and wearing a disguise, two charges.

Solid police work brought these three to a court room.

Pharmacy robberies have been taking place quite frequently in the Region.  Drug addicts go to any length to get whatever they think will feed their addiction.  Something to keep in mind as you watch the young people in your community circles.  If you think there are signs of what some call “recreational use” of drugs – move quickly to get help for the drug user.  There is no upside to drug use.

 

 

 

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