Two Range Rovers, a Dodge Ram truck and a several speed boats are among the dozens of pricey items recovered by Calgary police as part of lengthy operation by the Centralized Break and Enter Teams.
Approximately $1.33 million in stolen property has been recovered, including 47 vehicles, and 108 charges have been laid against four people after officers executed 39 outstanding warrants.
Police began their investigation in August 2017 after three separate break and enters happened at a business in the 3400 block of 44 Avenue S.E.
In each break-in, the offenders used a stolen vehicle to tow away a Mastercraft boat, in total making off with three boats and three boat trailers. Those thefts had a total value of approximately $638,500.
After investigating further, investigators determined those three break-ins were connected to a series of dealership-targeted thefts across the city, which saw a total of 17 vehicles stolen at an estimated value of $1 million.
Police believe the vehicles used to steal the boats and trailers were taken in the dealership break-ins and were stolen by accessing each dealership’s drop box. It’s also believed those stolen vehicles were involved in gas thefts and other property damage and driving offences.
After identifying several potential suspects, police executed search warrants at a home in the 5100 block of Maryvale Drive N.E., along with two rural properties in Mountain View and Rocky View counties with the help of RCMP.
Dozens of vehicles, various tools, generators and other household recreation items totaling $1.33 million were seized as a result of the warrants and the suspects arrested.
During one of the arrests, one of the suspects was nabbed while driving a stolen Ford F350 which was towing a 25′ utility trailer holding a 1929 Ford Model A which had been stolen from an antique vehicle collector.
Calgary police said investigators have identified about 33 victims of the thefts and hope to get all the items back to their rightful owners.
One of the 33 victims was Martin Motor Sports, who had their lot broken into three times and speedboats on trailers brazenly stolen.
“It always feels like you’ve been violated when you’ve got property that is on one side of the fence and it’s highly secured and somebody decides to breach that security and take it, it doesn’t feel very good,” owner Ave Spratt told Global News on Wednesday.
Spratt said the company has taken extra security measures and all of their stores across Western Canada have heightened awareness now about potentially being a target.
He also said one of the stolen boats was a customer’s, adding that the thieves not only victimized a business, but also a family about to head out on vacation.
“The upside is that this has been caught, the equipment has been found but… how do you send a message to those guys that really disrupted a bunch of families and businesses?” Spratt said.
Police believe the suspects were moving the items outside the city with the goal of eventually selling them, adding that in many cases, registration differences in other provinces make it harder to track stolen vehicles.
“We believe they all knew each other and were working together at different times,” Acting Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson said, adding there was an element of organization to the crimes.
“So in some cases you had people that were committing the original offences and then others located the property, assisted in storing the property, and keeping it for some time.”
He said that a few of those arrested had significant criminal histories and were known to police.
Gregson said if people are looking to buy items online and they come across an item they think may have been stolen, they should trust their instincts.
“Often where you go to meet people, when you’re buying stuff online through websites such as Kijiji or other places – if somebody wants to meet in an odd location… that should be setting off some alarm bells that this doesn’t seem right,” he said. “In those cases, it likely isn’t.”
Included in the seizure were:
- Passenger vehicles
Jason Howard little, 34, of Calgary has been charged with 65 offences, including:
- 15 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000
- 12 counts of breach of recognizance
- Nine counts each of driving while unauthorized and driving without insurance
- Six counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000
- Five counts of break and enter
- Three counts of theft under $5,000
- Two counts each of theft over $5,000, possession of break-and-enter instruments and possession of an illegal substance
Brandon Stevens, 24, of Calgary faces 30 charges including:
- Five counts of theft under $5,000
- Four counts each of break and enter, possession of stolen property over $5,000, driving while unauthorized and driving without insurance
- Two counts each of possession of stolen property under $5,000 and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
- One count each of possession of break-and-enter instruments, mischief to property over $5,000, mischief to property under $5,000, breach of recognizance and possession of an illegal substance
Ralph Huzingas, 57, of Calgary has been charged with three counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000 and one count each of possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, driving without insurance and driving without a subsisting license.
Amanda Heino, 30, of Calgary faces three charges of breach of recognizance.