Community Justice

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A bond stronger than greed
By: John Lamont

In the latter months of 2015, some unusual criminal activity occurred in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): the South Asian jewellery community was targeted by an organized gang. During this time, gang members broke into retailers’ homes, held their families hostage, and berated them for information about their store security systems.

As a result of these events, Harinder Malhi, a local MPP, arranged a meeting between jewellers in the community, local politicians, Peel Regional Police and Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC). At this time, a number of jewellers discussed unsolved crimes that had been committed against them, suggesting that the police were doing nothing to resolve them. However, the police revealed that there were no camera systems in place at the stores and no fingerprints or DNA left at the scene, allowing for the suspects’ easy getaway. Additionally, said the police, the robbers were able to gain easy access into the homes, as they were not hindered by alarms or locks.

One jeweller became very emotional as he explained the horrors that these criminals put his family through. Their fear of such an event occurring again was so strong, he said, that they were considering moving to a new home.

Peel Regional Police’s Loss Prevention Unit and JVC gave attendees a list of procedures and equipment that could help prevent these types of crimes. JVC strongly recommended to the attending jewellers that they form a local area network, using their cell phones to share information on any suspicious activities.

After this assembly, JVC reached out to all of its Canadian members, making them aware of the situation and preparing them for any similar events in the future. Although no incidents of this type have occurred since this time, it is still crucial to heed to the preventative steps outlined by the JVC.

These robberies provoked Detective Sergeant Don Ross and his team from the Peel Regional Central Robbery Unit to weed out any similar occurrences in the GTA. As luck would have it, they got a hit—a similar event took place in Toronto in December 2015. Some positive leads were obtained, and after months of police surveillance, enough evidence was obtained to arrest the suspects responsible for terrorizing these jewellers.

This situation proves that when a community and the police work together, positive results can be achieved. Jewellers must realize that in today’s day and age, taking the necessary steps to protect themselves, their work places and, most of all, their families, cannot be left solely up to law enforcement. It is a combined effort of proper procedures and clear communication that keeps everyone safe.

Join the JVC Crime Prevention Program and become part of the solution—not the problem.

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