The Case of the Scooter Bandit

The Case of the Scooter Bandit

Sharing information across teams improves results

By John Lamont

Helen Keller once stated: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

2017 was a good example of this philosophy in the jewellery industry. Many jewellers reported a successful year—a team effort in sales had generated profits for them. Likewise, the JVC (Jewellers Vigilance Canada) Crime Prevention Program statistics showed success—a decrease of 22% in criminal losses to jewellers. A team effort in loss prevention and networking had produced this result.

While these individual team accomplishments are commendable, what is even more impressive is when teamwork happens between different teams, not just within them. This is seen in the following example of how teams of jewellers, loss prevention experts, local security and law enforcement recently worked together with great success.

In the fall of 2017, several Greater Toronto Area (GTA) jewellery stores experienced a number of grab and run thefts. A lone male had entered the stores requesting to see engagement rings, then bolted from the stores, ring in hand. Security images were obtained and police reports were filed.

Police investigators obtained fingerprints from the glass showcases, but when the prints were searched they came back negative, meaning they were not from a known criminal in Canada.

When an investigation commences, police prioritize cases into two categories: crimes against persons and property crimes. A majority of the jewellery crime cases are assigned to a property crime team of investigators, who deal with break and enters, thefts, street level robberies and more.

Simple thefts can be set aside due to the volume of other cases, which become a higher priority due to public risk. What can raise the priority of a mere property crime is good evidence obtained at the scene. If quality video is obtained at the store the solvability of the case escalates, which in turn generates priority from investigators.

If a case becomes serial in nature, more resources may be dedicated to this crime. The suspect mentioned above (we’ll call him the “scooter bandit”) hit stores in three police jurisdictions. The initial agency had three occurrences in their area. Priority in solving these cases became heightened.

JVC reached out to York Regional Police and were able to forward information of other occurrences that they were aware of in other jurisdictions. If crimes such as these are not reported to JVC then they can’t be passed on. If we work together as a team, jewellers can become a harder target for criminals.

In this case, an alert was sent out with images of the thief. A store employee recognized the scooter bandit when he tried to have a diamond appraised at a retail store in a major shopping mall in Toronto. York Regional Police then contacted mall security, and it was revealed that security had already identified the suspect through previous contact with him regarding an unrelated incident in the mall.

The difficulties for the police in this case became evident later on. The thief had only been in the country for two months.  He had no strong ties to a specific community. His fingerprints were not on file and he had no fixed address. The fact that he was transient made it difficult to track his movements. In fact, on the day he was arrested he advised police he was planning to go to Montreal.

Instead, due to further investigation based on the combined efforts of all involved, the suspect was arrested. He was charged with nine different thefts, during which he had stolen over $100,000 worth of jewellery, some of which was able to be recovered.

In this case, good video, prompt reporting of incidents, JVC Alerts and teamwork between the victims, private security (malls) and police resulted in eliminating a threat to the jewellery industry.

The Canadian Jewellery Association (CJA) sent letters of appreciation to York Regional Police 4 District Criminal Investigations, Yorkdale Mall Security and the Eaton Centre Mall Security for the dedication and hard work that resulted in making our jewellery community safer.