Rooftops Dangerous Playground

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 9:19 a.m. February 6, 2015
Updated: 10:10 a.m. February 6, 2015

Three men were arrested from a downtown building on Feb. 2, in an attempt to take roof-topping photographs by allegedly defeating locks to gain access to a closed part of the building.

Eight men on TPS CRU uniforms, with the yellow jackets on. Standing in front of the Commerce Court building plaza. It is snowing.
Officers from 52 foot patrol arrested the three men accused of trespassing and breaking in to the Commerce Court rooftop led by Sergeant Rob McDougall, third from right.

The three men were found in a secure area of the Commerce Court building by security and arrested for trespassing. Community Response officers from  52 Division arrived on scene, and were informed by security that a lock had been broken to get to the roof. The officers searched the suspects and found tools that could aid in breaking in. 

Roof-topping is defined as the practice of taking photographs from the roof of a building. 

“The practice of taking pictures and climbing structures itself is not illegal, provided you have permission to enter building and permit to climb,” explains Constable David Hopkinson. 

In the case of the three men arrested – they were breaking the law. “It starts out as trespassing, they don’t have the authority to be there… the criminal part is how they get there… by removing and breaking locks,” according to Community Response Sergeant Robert McDougall. 

Sergeant McDougall goes on to explain why the men were also charged with mischief – after a secure site has been breached, whether a construction site or a closed-off roof – management has to do an inspection to make sure there are no safety issues (particularly in the case of construction sites), which costs them money.

“At the end of the day, they are beautiful pictures, but they can cost time and money (for building management),” said McDougall.

According to McDougall in the recent year they have had safety alerts about roof-topping and other forms of urban exploring. 

A few weeks ago individuals were found slacklining across two buildings in 52 Division without any safety equipment.

The act of urban exploring has also proved fatal in the last few years in Toronto. In 2008, a man fell from an abandoned building while taking photos from the roof. The building was closed off to the public with barbed wire fencing around it.  In 2014, a young man exploring an abandoned building was electrocuted on the roof. 

Sergeant McDougall adds that open construction sites in particular are vulnerable to the act of urban exploring and that they pose a threat to safety for construction workers as well. If settings are moved or something is changed on a construction site the safety of everybody on the site can be in danger, explains McDougall. 

McDougall adds that two of the three individuals arrested were cautioned by police last week after they were caught taking photos at a Ryerson University construction site.  

The three men have been charged: 

Jaswinder Brar, 34, of Toronto, is charged with: 
1) Break and Enter and Commit 
2) Mischief Under $5000 
3) Possession of Break-in Instruments 

Eric Do, 27, of Toronto, is charged with: 
1) Break and Enter and Commit 
2) Mischief Under $5000 
3) Possession of Break-in Instruments 

Tomer Ryaboi, 34, of Toronto, is charged with: 
1) Break and Enter and Commit 
2) Mischief Under $5000 

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