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14 of the strangest things stolen in Canada in 2019 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
There is a saying in the news industry that “dog bites man” is not a story but “man bites dog” is, because reporting is about telling stories that go beyond the ordinary.

Stolen vehicles are usually an example of “dog bites man” news. If that vehicle is full of milk or Blundstones, though, it’s veering into “man bites dog” territory. Ditto if it’s a food truck or if it left tracks that made it easy to find.

And while break-ins at homes and businesses are unfortunately common, odds are they’ll only get news coverage if the thief makes off with something unusual, such as antique chainsaws or used cooking oil or an entire kitchen.

In that spirit, we’ve put together a look at some of the strangest thefts reported to Canadian police services in 2019.

From a large amount of water to a little bit of sand, the stories on this list prove that solving crime is never a day at the beach.

‘OLD TOWN ROAD’ SIGNS

The song of the summer provided a small community in B.C. with an unexpected bout of entrepreneurship.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ climbed the charts in record-breaking fashion, fuelled in part by controversy over its removal from Billboard’s ranking of country songs.

As the song’s popularity grew, so did the rate of disappearance of street signs along an actual Old Town Road in Sicamous, B.C.

Realizing that there was a demand for the signs, community leaders started selling them for $25 apiece. Officials said they sold some to people from as far away as Las Vegas and Belize.

ICEBERG WATER

At industrial scales, iceberg water is primarily used to make products such as vodka and cosmetics.

Given that, one can forgive Iceberg Vodka for believing that the water held in tanks at its warehouse in Port Union, N.L. would be safe from bandits.

But that wasn’t the case. One of its tanks was drained over a weekend while the warehouse was closed, and thieves made off with about 30,000 litres of iceberg water – enough to fill a tractor-trailer or to make 150,000 bottles of vodka.

A SNUGGLING GOAT

When a farm on Vancouver Island opened its doors for a baby goat-snuggling event, its owners never suspected that one of the snugglers would turn out to be a smuggler.

But that’s exactly what happened at a farm in Ladysmith, B.C., in April.

As the farm’s owner was packing up from the event, he realized that one of the baby goats was missing. Only 12 days old, the goat was still surviving on milk from its mother.

B.C. was home to a number of bizarre animal thefts this year, including a juvenile snake and a litter of shih tzu puppies.

A FENCING MASK SIGNED BY THE CAST OF ‘THE PRINCESS BRIDE’

The only word to describe this case is “inconceivable.”

Jaspaul Sandhu’s car was stolen in July from a parking lot in Calgary.

The auto theft would have been bad enough on its own, but Sandhu had left a number of rare items inside, including fencing and rock climbing equipment and a priceless possession – a fencing mask signed by cast members from the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride.”

BOB BELL’S BELL

A quiet intersection outside Edmonton has been known as “Bell’s Corner” for decades. It got its name from the Bell family, who have long maintained a farm on one corner.

A large bell was hung at the intersection in 2008 by Bob Bell, as a tribute to his grandparents. Dating back to 1903, the 320-kilogram bell had previously spent half a century at a church and then another 20 years outside Bell’s car dealership.

The bell was swiped from its home in April. Local police said it was the first time they were aware of a bell being stolen in the area.

 

A LOT OF ALCOHOL

Alcohol thefts aren’t exactly rare. One Alberta liquor store chain estimated that it dealt with more than 18 thefts per day last year. More recently, Ontario’s liquor retail operator has ramped up security at some of its most frequently targeted stores, while its Manitoba counterpart has started naming and shaming people accused of stealing from it.

Some thefts, though, manage to stand out. Take the man who was accused of stealing $58,000 worth of alcohol from stores in Toronto over a little more than a year, or the case of a tractor-trailer full of beer stolen elsewhere in Ontario.

Thieves in Vancouver in June were less lucky. They thought they were stealing 22 bottles of liquor from a bartending school, but soon discovered that it was only coloured water.

THE MAKINGS OF A MEAL

Much like alcohol thefts, heists involving meat aren’t exactly uncommon – but sometimes the scale or circumstances of the crime are weird enough to make it newsworthy.

This year in Ontario alone, steaks were stolen from a family’s barbecue and a Royal Canadian Legion branch’s freezerful of meat was nabbed.

Lobster is a common target for East Coast thieves; 60 pounds of it was swiped off of a boat in February, and 48 crates – worth an estimated $25,000 – were taken from a P.E.I. storage facility and later recovered.

Far more valuable than the lobster was the $187,000 cheese shipment that was allegedly picked up by a stranger with fake paperwork.

For dessert, all of the thieves described above might want to connect with those who pilfered 250 chocolate bars or 100 ice cream sandwiches.

A DUNK TANK

Ashtin Anderson has the same question about this story as all of us: “Who would steal a dunk tank?”

That’s exactly what happened in Boyle, Alta. in July. The local agricultural society had rented the dunk tank to use in a fundraiser. The event was apparently successful, as organizers didn’t get to bed until 3:30 a.m.

When the first organizer returned at 6 a.m., though, the tank had vanished.

A photo circulated on social media showing people playing in the tank after-hours, seemingly still in the same spot it was during the fundraiser, but that evidence was not enough to solve the mystery.

ELECTRICITY

Giving a key to a trusted neighbour before leaving for vacation is a good way to get peace of mind – except in this case.

A resident of Tillsonburg, Ont. returned home in August after a lengthy absence and discovered an extension cord running from their home into their neighbour’s.

The neighbour was charged with theft of electricity. Stealing or wasting electricity or gas carries the same criminal penalty as any other form of theft.

A PECULIAR PILLOW

It isn’t what was stolen that made a September heist in West Vancouver unusual – it’s what happened next.

Police officers responding to a report of a bag of tools stolen from a construction site decided to search a nearby forest.

Inside the forest, they allegedly found a man sleeping on the ground, with his head resting on the very tools that had been reported stolen.

He was arrested for possession of stolen property and unrelated offences.

SHORTY AND OTHER STATUES

Shorty, a small statue of a sailor caricature, quickly became a popular attraction after it was placed in Peggy’s Cove, N.S. in 2018.

The statue vanished from its home in April – but unlike many of the capers we’re describing, this one had a happy ending.

Students from Dalhousie University contacted Shorty’s owner, telling her they had found the statue in a house in Halifax in what they believed was “a prank gone wrong.”

Shorty was returned to Peggy’s Cove and soon joined by a Mrs. Shorty.

Other prominent statue thefts this year include the head from a statue of St. Vladimir outside a church in Winnipeg, a giant head from a tourist attraction in P.E.I., a sculpture of a nude woman at a Vancouver art gallery, and a large golden egg from a Salvador Dali piece in Vancouver.

A BIG PUMPKIN

A Halloween-season theft at a fruit stand in B.C. was neither a trick nor a treat.

Penticton farmer Parmjeet Dhaliwal said her “masterpiece” 40-kilogram pumpkin was snatched just before she had planned to carve it.

Surveillance camera photos showed two people looking at the pumpkin, but it was not clear if they were responsible for the theft. Dhaliwal said it was the second time she’d been hit by pumpkin thieves.

A pumpkin theft in Calgary a few weeks earlier left a four-year-old girl upset, as the gourd had been growing in her garden all summer. Two waste management workers heard about that theft and responded by hand-delivering two pumpkins to the girl’s home.

BEACH SAND

Whether a beach is public or private, somebody owns it – and that means nothing there is free for the taking.

That lesson was learned by a beachgoer in Port Stanley, Ont., who was approached by police after they allegedly noticed him filling a bucket with sand.

Police say the man told them he was going to take the sand home and use it to level stones in his garden.

They responded that if he wanted to avoid a theft charge, he should purchase sand legally.

NOTHING

It was the perfect setup for a crime of opportunity: A supermarket in Kingston, Ont. was accidentally left unlocked overnight.

With no employees around, it would have been easy for any would-be thieves to abscond with cartfuls of meat, baby food, razors and other valuable goods.

Although plenty of people had the chance, wandering into the store and realizing nobody could stop them, not a single item was reported stolen.

After reviewing security camera footage, the store’s manager said it was clear the customers all left the supermarket after they realized it wasn’t supposed to be open.

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Canada's policy time bomb: Rising home prices and homelessness – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
When you watch the news or read the latest macroeconomic data, things in Canada seem good. Unemployment remains near historic lows, interest rates are under control and Canada is back on the list of the top 10 largest economies in the world. Sounds pretty good.

How is it that even with all this good news Canadians remain anxious about our economic state of affairs? Research suggests that there is a fundamental disconnect between the macroeconomic data and how people feel. Only a little more than 15 per cent of Canadians, according to the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index remain upbeat about the coming year and a significant number of Canadians are outright worried about a recession in 2020.

Views on real estate are a double-edged sword. Canadians who are homeowners feel better when they see housing prices in their neighbourhood rise but the other side of that sword is that for those Canadians that are not homeowners, rising prices make both homeownership more difficult to attain and affordable rentals more elusive to find.

In a new eye-popping national study on homelessness for the Ottawa Mission, a majority of Canadians reported that someone they cared about was at risk of being homeless. Only 35 per cent of respondents reported no one they cared for was at risk of being homeless (43 per cent reported a small risk, 15 per cent a medium risk, and five per cent a high risk). When you walk down the street in your neighbourhood, one in five of your neighbours have someone they care about and think that person may have a high or medium risk of being homeless.

The same study suggests that a majority of Canadians believe that the issue of homelessness will have a serious or somewhat serious impact on Canada as a country. If you live in the hot real estate market of British Columbia or you are a woman, this sentiment rises to eight in ten.

When you factor the current problem of homelessness and overlay population growth in Canada one should become even more concerned. Canada is among the fastest growing countries in the G7 and StatCan projects that Canada could have a population of 48.8 million people by 2050. The forces of population growth and lack of affordable housing will collide with inaction.

The good news is that Canadians do not lay finding a solution at the feet of one level of government. Asked who should be responsible for dealing with homelessness no clear player or level of government comes out way ahead. Twenty-three per cent cite the federal government, 18 per cent municipal and provincial governments, 14 per cent family and friends of the homeless and 16 per cent say everyone should be responsible. This speaks to the need to organize a common sense of purpose.

The unspoken truth is that Canadians are worried that someone they care about is at risk of being homeless. Everyone should take note of this policy time bomb.

Nik Nanos is the Chief Data Scientist for Nanos Research and the Official Pollster for CTV News

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B.C. woman calls for Canada to help extract daughter from quarantined Chinese city – CTV News

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VANCOUVER —
An instructor at a Metro Vancouver university says her daughter is stranded in the quarantined Chinese city of Wuhan, and she’s asking the Canadian government to join France and the United States in their efforts to evacuate their citizens from the area.

Lily Liu, who teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, told CTV News Vancouver her daughter Fiona Dong left for China on Jan. 10 to visit her father and grandparents in Wuhan.

She was planning to stay through the Lunar New Year and leave China on Feb. 10, but changed her departing flight to Jan. 27 as the outbreak of a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan began to spread, Liu said.

Then, on Wednesday, China cut off all travel into and out of Wuhan, and Dong’s airline cancelled her departing flight, leaving her stranded in the city.

“She is my only daughter,” Liu said. “I’m worried every day. Also, all my family members who are in North America, we are so worried about her.”

She said she has been speaking to Fiona daily since the city was quarantined. She said media reports her daughter has seen in China have suggested the city will be closed “at least eight weeks.”

“The longer she stays there, the more dangerous,” Liu said. “She’s healthy now, but we don’t know, you know, what will happen to her … If she can’t get out now, every day her life is being threatened.”

Liu spent much of Saturday morning on the phone, talking to relatives and trying to get assistance from the Canadian government.

Since cutting off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan, as well as public transportation within the city, China has steadily expanded the lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million. That’s a greater total population than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

On Friday, France confirmed three cases of the coronavirus within its borders, the first three cases reported in Europe. Cases have also been recorded in the United States, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and elsewhere.

French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on “eventual options” to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn’t elaborate.

U.S media sources, including CNN, have reported that the United States is working on chartering a flight to get Americans out of the country, but the U.S. State Department had not confirmed those efforts Saturday.

Liu said she hoped Canada would make similar plans, but her calls so far have not been fruitful. She said the Canadian government’s advice to travellers so far has been to follow the instructions of the local government in China.

“I’m so frustrated, because if the government doesn’t take any action to help, for us, personally, we have no way to get out of the city,” she said.

Global Affairs Canada has warned Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located and the novel coronavirus was first discovered.

CTV News reached out to Global Affairs to ask about what plans, if any, Canada has for evacuating its citizens from affected areas of China, as well as how many Canadians are currently in the country.

In a statement, the federal agency said it is “closely monitoring the situation.”

“GAC is closely working with Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada to provide guidance to our diplomats serving abroad and their families for staying healthy and safe,” the agency said.

“Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000,” the statement continued. “Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.”

Global Affairs Canada said it is aware of multiple Canadians who are currently in Hubei province, but it couldn’t provide a concrete number.

With files from the Associated Press and CNN 

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Canada's first 'presumptive positive' case of coronavirus found in Ontario – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Ontario’s chief medical officer has confirmed Canada’s first ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus.

In a news conference Saturday, officials said the man in his 50s fell ill after travelling to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak. The patient is in stable condition at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Officials in Ontario have been in contact with Canada’s public health agency and are working in collaboration with Toronto Public Health to “prevent any spread” of the virus.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said officials are focused on finding out who the patient may have come into contact with and what types of settings they may have been exposed to.

“It is understandable that people may be concerned with today’s news of our first case and that people may worry,”” de Villa said in a press release.

“But I assure you that based on the lessons we learned from SARS now 17 years ago, and given our experiences during the flu pandemic of 2009 and more recently, with Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, we have learned, shared knowledge and built a stronger public health system that is ready to respond, as needed.”

So far, two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases of the virus Saturday, while Japan confirmed a third case. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe.

China’s National Health Commission confirmed Saturday that the death toll from the new virus had climbed to 41, with the number of people infected rising to 1,287.

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