Public Helps in Arrest of Break-and-Enter Suspect

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:55 p.m. March 3, 2016
Updated: 4:37 p.m. March 4, 2016

Georgina was in her basement, talking on the phone, when she walked upstairs to find a stranger in her home, packing things in a bag. The bag also had an ax sticking out of it – one that she usually kept in her shed.

four men in uniform standing in a hallway
Constables Howard Clements, Bing Lou, Michael Hare and Sergeant Patrick Plunkett.

“I saw someone in the kitchen and he had his back to me, wearing a black jacket with the hood up,” said the woman.

At first, she thought it was her teenage son, up early to go ice-fishing, but it took just a few seconds to see that it was a stranger and he was putting things from her house into his bag. 

The man turned around and looked right at Georgina.

“I started going through the though process on what I should do,” says Georgina, adding that she couldn’t see what the man was doing, as he looked at her and kept going through the cupboards. Not sure if he had a weapon, and with her son still sleeping upstairs, Georgina was hesitant to leave.

“He proceeded to be going through stuff and then he turned around and grabbed a red flask and looks at me and asks if he can have it, ‘I said sure you can have it,” recalls Georgina, who was trying to remain calm and hoping the man left without being confrontational.   

“I was already in the situation at that point. I knew he had the ax and didn’t know what other weapons he had on him. I knew I had to stay calm,” she says. 

She said that she could see that he was high on some sort of substance. His movements were slow. She had to assess whether he was going to be aggressive. In her opinion, he wasn’t. 

“I asked him ‘have you got everything you need, is there anything else that you want?’ He said ‘no,’ and so I said ‘well, maybe it’s time for you to be on your way,’” says Georgina, who said that the man complied with her and left as she guided him out. 

A compassionate side came out, says the mom of two teenagers, who says the man was a young man, in his early twenties and clearly under the influence and she didn’t want him to harm himself or anyone else.

As soon as he left, she watched him leave from the side door, and walk towards her neighbour’s front porch. She had called 9-1-1, by then, and told them the man’s location. 

Police arrived in less than a minute. 

Crime Prevention Tips: Break & Enter

Constable Michael Hare got the call. Sergeant Patrick Plunkett was also monitoring it on the radio, connected it with three other calls for break-and-enters they had received earlier in the morning, and made his way to Georgina’s address. 

Georgina was updating Communications on the man’s whereabouts, on the phone, as she watched him through the window of her house as he approached another home on her street. 

Plunkett arrived to see the man packing a black gym bag, his back turned to the street. 

The man fit the description of several break-and-enter calls 32 Division officers had received that morning. 

Earlier in the day, Constable Bing Lou had attended a call for a break-and-enter where the suspect had fled when he saw the owner inside the home. The constable had then gotten two more calls in succession for two more break-and-enters on the same block. 

He had set up a perimeter and called in Police Dog Services but, because it was around 8 in the morning with a school at the end of the block and snowing, there was no lead for PDS.

“There was so much foot traffic in the area, people were coming to drop off their kids because of the school in the area. Because of that, area was contaminated,” said Lou. 

An hour later, Constable Hare received a call from a woman who said a man had walked into her house. When he saw her, he fled, however the woman called police an hour after the incident. As Hare arrived at that call, a man from across the street walked up to the officer and said his garage, too, had been broken into and ransacked. 

While speaking to the man, Hare received a call from Dispatch, who were getting updates from Georgina. 

Her accurate information allowed both Plunkett and Hare to narrow in on the man. 

Constable Howard Clements, a Crime Prevention Officer, had also been monitoring some break-and-enters from last week. He headed to where Georgina said the man was. 

All three officers arrived on scene. Plunkett approached the man, while Hare was right behind him.

Plunkett allegedly saw the ax sticking out of a bag next to the man as he packed more things into the bag. He was also wearing three jackets. 

Plunkett shouted a command at the man and the man complied, not resisting arrest or running away. The two officers cuffed him and, upon searching him, found a gun on him. 

They also emptied his pockets (on all three jackets) which were allegedly full of stolen property. 

“As they started searching him, all I saw was more things being pulled out from the jackets… cellphones, a screwdriver, lighters, chargers, some white substance, a crack pipe, the ax was sticking out of his bag, there was a beer bottle, wallets, jewelry and key fobs,” says Clements, who was watching from the driveway in case the other two officers needed assistance.

Overall, it was a smooth arrest and the man was charged in relation to more than five break-and-enters in the area. 

 “They key to his arrest was the complainant who provided ongoing updates and accurate information,” adds Plunkett, who says the man would have been caught, eventually, since his crime was so brazen, but the accurate information led to a speedy arrest. 

Residents, who were in their homes while the break-ins happened, were lucky the man was not confrontational, adds Lou, who says the suspect was clearly high on some drugs. “Thank God nothing happened, and that no homeowner tried to defend themselves and take him on, otherwise somebody could have gotten hurt,” said Lou. 

“The suspect allegedly had a handgun in a holster on the front of his belt and the sergeant did what he had to do, but the professionalism of our service members shone through… they resolved the matter with an arrest and a number of charges,” says Staff Sergeant Frank Partridge.

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