Stolen Laptop Priceless Memories

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 5:18 p.m. June 16, 2015
Updated: 8:16 a.m. June 22, 2015

A Toronto woman made an emotional appeal to the person who stole her laptop and hard drive to return it as it had video footage of her two deceased children.

A woman stands beside a podium and a boy and another man
Diane Wilson speaks to media beside her son Jarrett Gill, 13, and Detective Jason Albanese

Diane Wilson’s laptop was stolen from her car on the afternoon of Saturday June 13, on St. Clair Avenue West and Lauder Avenue while she was inside a restaurant having brunch with her family. 

Wilson said the laptop and back up hard drive were in a silver, woven fabric bag. Both devices had video footage of her children Colton and Carling who had passed away from Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCL), sometimes referred to as Batten’s Disease.

“I shouldn’t have left it in the car, I know that I take full responsibility for that but I know that whoever did take it have their own reasons for having to take it and I really truly believe they will not want to hang on to the data, it does not mean anything to them but it means everything to me and our family,” said Wilson.

Detective Jason Albanese said finding the laptop and the information on it is the main concern of police, noting that investigators have discretion in laying charges.

“Toronto Police is requesting the public’s assistance in returning this property to Diane,” said Albanese, noting anyone with information should call 13 Division or send a tip anonymously to police through Crime Stoppers.

It does not mean anything to them but it means everything to me and our family

Detective Jason Alabanese, Diane Wilson, and her son, Jarrett Gill, make a plea for the return of a laptop containing family photos and videos

Albanese appealed to the person to come forward and do the right thing. 

“I want to appeal to your human decency and your compassion.” 

The detective added criminal matters or charges would be secondary to the investigation and foremost he would like to reunite Wilson with her stolen property. 

“On that laptop were over 27,000 photographs and videos that I’ve taken over the past 15 years. We are a special needs family and I had two special needs children besides my healthy son… and it was a very challenging and inspiring story,” said Wilson, who was collecting videos and photos of her family to turn into a documentary. 

“I documented everything,” she said adding that the back-up disk was in the bag that was stolen as well. 

Her son Colton who passed away in 2013, was taken to India by the family for stem cell brain surgery in 2008 and once there, the young boy wanted to help give back to the country where his surgery was performed. 

“He had said he wanted to give back and so we were creating a documentary with all of the footage to kick of our fundraising for health clinics with Free the Children,” said Wilson. 

“And I can’t do that documentary without the footage and it tells that story,” said a teary Wilson.

“All those videos and photos are a way for me to remember who my brother and sister were and what impact they had in my life,” said Wilson’s son, Jarrett Gill.

Two framed photos on a podium
Photos of Colton and Carling, who died after suffering from Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCL), sometimes referred to as Batten’s Disease.

“It was absolutely terrible I felt absolutely horrible for my mom because we lost so much in our lives and another thing to lose isn’t really that important because we lost so much, but then I realized everything we had with my brother and sister on that… I was just lost like running on the street trying to see if I could see the bag…it was just terrible,” said the 13-year-old standing by his mother’s side. 

The family is also offering a reward for the return of the data which is at a $1,000 and will be doubled by a stranger who heard of the family’s plight. 

“The back-up drive is there in the same bag so all they have to do is back it up and return the data,” added Wilson, “the computer would be wonderful…(but) the data is priceless.”

Wilson said she believed she would get her data back, “people are good, that’s our experience being a specials needs family and seeing good in people’s hearts and I’m holding on to that,” she said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World. 

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