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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mass quarantines won’t happen in Canada if coronavirus is discovered: authorities – Global News
Canadians have no need to worry about the prospect of mass quarantines, even in the likely event the coronavirus is discovered here, public health authorities said on Friday.
They said scary images coming from a now isolated Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people, will not be repeated here.
“Absolutely not,” Dr. Peter Donnelly, with Public Health Ontario, said. “If a case comes here, and it is probably likely that we will have a case here, it will still be business as normal.”
In addition to Wuhan, where the virus outbreak has been concentrated, China has shut transportation in at least 12 other cities home to more than 36 million people. Bustling streets, malls and other public spaces have turned eerily quiet, masks are mandatory in public, and some hospitals have run low on medical supplies.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, urged people to consult credible information sources on the outbreak. Good places include websites of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario and Toronto Public Health, she said.
“I ask members of the public to rely on evidence-informed, credible sources of information when you’re looking for updates,” de Villa said.
So far, the coronavirus is reported to have killed more than two dozen people and made hundreds of others ill. Symptoms can mirror those of the cold and flu, including cough, fever, chest tightening and shortness of breath, but can worsen to pneumonia.
While no cases have been reported in Canada, concerns about the virus have stirred memories of the SARS outbreak in 2003 that killed 44 Canadians and saw Toronto turn temporarily into something of an international pariah after the World Health Organization issued a travel advisory warning people to avoid the city.
Donnelly said the situation is now very different from what it was then. Authorities, he said, are much better prepared than they were for SARS: Communications are more robust, hospitals have better isolation facilities, and a reliable test is available to detect the coronavirus within 24 hours.
20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads
“This was a disease unknown to science only two weeks ago and we now have the full genetic fingerprint of the virus and we have a test, which is specific and reliable,” Donnelly said. “In situations like this, speed and certainty are both very important.”
Health officials were also working with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg to develop an even quicker test.
The federal government has beefed up measures at major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
Visitors are now being asked about any travel to Wuhan in the past 14 days and a positive response would trigger further investigation.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Eliott said border agents will decide if a traveller needs an immediate medical assessment and treatment. An ambulance would take the person from the airport directly to hospital. Fact sheets are also being prepared, she said.
De Villa stressed the importance of good hygiene to prevent virus transmission. Simple steps include washing hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re ill.
While the World Health Organization has decided for now against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, Donnelly said public health authorities were still working to ensure any cases here are dealt with effectively.
Wuhan lock-down over coronavirus leads to empty streets, train stations
“We are not complacent, we’re working extremely hard on this but we are quietly confident that we can handle this,” Donnelly said.
Canada’s chief medical officer has said the chances of a outbreak here were low. Health officials note the common cold comes from the same family as the latest coronavirus and that influenza virus kills thousands of Canadians every year.
On Friday, Quebec health officials said coronavirus tests on six travellers from China under observation in Montreal and Quebec City hospitals had come back negative.
Dr. Horracio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said earlier in the week the six had landed in Quebec with symptoms associated with the illness. Arruda said vigilance is key.
“There’s no reason for fear because sometimes the epidemic of fear is greater than what is going on,” he said.
–With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal
© 2020 The Canadian Press
China among WTO members backing Canada's alternate trade dispute scheme – CBC.ca
As the U.S. continues to paralyze the World Trade Organization’s system for appealing trade disputes, 17 members of the trade organization announced Friday they will collaborate on an alternative initiated by Canada and the European Union to resolve complaints that emerge between them in the meantime.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where ministers representing like-minded trading partners have been grappling with how to proceed as a group, unless and until Americans’ concerns about the need for WTO reform can be resolved.
“We believe that a functioning dispute settlement system of the WTO is of the utmost importance for a rules-based trading system, and that an independent and impartial appeal stage must continue to be one of its essential features,” said the joint statement released Friday by the group.
The WTO continues to try to resolve disputes at its committees, and panels are still struck to review complaints and report back when member countries are alleged to have broken the rules.
But as of December, the WTO’s appellate body no longer has enough members to hear new appeals.
For the last few years, the United States has refused to agree to the appointment of any new adjudicators until its concerns about the existing process are addressed. Without a consensus among its members on how to proceed, the trade organization is paralyzed.
Canada’s complaint and request for arbitration with the United States over softwood lumber duties is among the cases now stalled.
Canada and the European Union first announced an interim arrangement for resolving trade disputes with each other last July. Now fifteen more countries have climbed aboard. They are:
- Costa Rica.
- Republic of Korea.
- New Zealand.
Many of these countries met in Davos this week as part of the WTO’s Cairns group: agricultural exporters who share the common cause of wanting to liberalize trade barriers.
But the most significant player in this new alternative scheme may be China.
Many of the American concerns about the WTO centre on complaints about whether the terms of China’s membership in the WTO are fair. But China has a reasonable track record of complying with the final decisions of the WTO’s now-paralyzed dispute resolution process.
Neither China nor the U.S. was part of the Ottawa group, a collection of WTO members that also held a working dinner in Davos hosted by Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, to continue talks on WTO reform that began under Canada’s leadership in 2018.
The door was left open to China and anyone else joining the broader conversation around possible solutions at an appropriate time.
Friday’s agreement now sets these countries on a path to being able to resolve future disputes with China, a dominant player in international trade because of its massive market size, manufacturing capacity and corresponding economic influence.
The statement characterizes this interim system as “contingency measures” to “allow for appeals amongst ourselves” when the findings of those panels are in dispute. It’s based on Article 25 of the WTO’s dispute settlement rules, which allow for multi-party interim arrangements.
The statement says it will be in place “only and until a reformed WTO Appellate Body becomes fully operational” and any other WTO members are welcome to join these already signing on.
‘Dramatic’ move on WTO reform coming: Trump
More work remains to determine exactly how the new appeals process will work and what arbitrators will hear its cases.
“We have also taken proper note of the recent engagement of President Trump on WTO reform,” the group’s joint statement said.
In his closing news conference before leaving Davos Wednesday, the American president told reporters that a delegation from the WTO’s directorate was visiting Washington next week or the week after, and portrayed these talks as a form of negotiation toward reform.
Because the organization isn’t top-down, but only proceeds based on negotiations between its members, it’s unclear any kind of deal could result, although it would allow the White House to communicate its concerns directly.
“We’re going to do something that I think will be very dramatic,” Trump said, without giving any indication what exactly he had in mind.
Canada’s chief medical official says coronavirus outbreak chances are low – Global News
Dr. Theresa Tam says as of Thursday there are no confirmed cases here.
Her comments come as China’s National Health Commission confirmed it is dealing with 830 cases of the new virus and 26 deaths.
China’s lockdown affects at least 10 cities in central Hubei province, encompassing about 33 million people.
Montreal-based acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil has also cancelled all performances in Hangzhou, China as a precaution.
It says it made the decision to cancel performances of “The Land of Fantasy” show after Chinese officials requested the temporary closing of all indoor activities with 100 or more people to stem the outbreak.
20 million in China under lockdown as coronavirus spreads
Some countries such as the Philippines have installed thermal scanners at airports to detect potential carriers of the disease when they arrive from China as those infected have displayed flu-like symptoms such as fevers.
Tam says Canada has no plans to follow suit.
“In our experience during SARS, we scanned millions of people and didn’t pick up a single case,” she said.
“What we know is if you get infected, there could be many days between being infected and being symptomatic or having a fever.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
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