Stanley Cup riot: London Drugs sues looters for a total of $50,000

Legal woes aren’t over for at least eight Stanley Cup rioters.

London Drugs is going after them for a total of $50,000 for the merchandise they looted from its downtown drug store almost two years ago after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The B.C.-based drug store chain on Thursday filed four separate writs in B.C. small claims court naming seven admitted looters, one suspected looter as well as “John Doe 1-3 and Jane Doe 1-3” for unidentified looters.

Two of the convicted looters have been sentenced — one to a month in jail, the other to house arrest — and the others are awaiting sentencing, according to court documents.

One looter, Victor Varela, 22, of Surrey, admitted in court to entering London Drugs on June 15, 2011, and stealing two laptop computers, a camera and $800 binoculars, which he either sold or gave away, the store said.

He was sentenced in February to 30 days in jail for rioting.

Varela’s booty was part of the $450,000 the chain lost to the 343 looters who streamed into the store and carted away their loot as cameras rolled. Total damages from losses and damages from the five-hour riot was $4 million.

“One individual made $2,000 in fast money for what he stole,” said London Drugs CEO Wynne Powell.

He said the store decided to sue the looters, even those who apologized during sentencing or were sent to jail.

“How sorry are they when they don’t bring back what they stole,” he said.

He said insurance has already covered the store’s loss and it’s costing about $50,000 in legal fees to fight the civil suits.

“This is to get the message out there to those people who think they can terrorize our staff and tarnish the city’s reputation and think they can get away with it,” he said.

“Anybody needs to understand, if you’re going to take over Vancouver, it’s going to come with a cost.”

Powell said the claims were filed in small claims court, where suits are capped at $25,000, because the process is quicker and more efficient than going through B.C. Supreme Court.

Three rioters are facing individual lawsuits, claiming damages, stolen inventory, investigation costs and punitive damages:

Frank Neroni, 27, of Blaine, Wash., for $10,155.02. The writ claims he stole merchandise including “several packages of batteries.” He was charged with rioting and break and enter and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 18 in Vancouver provincial court.

Hendrik Coetze, 20, for $10,155.02. The writ claims he stole “several DVDs and food products.” He was charged with rioting, three break and enters and disguising his face with intent to commit an offence. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month.

Victor Varela, 22, for $5,060.38. The writ claims he stole two laptops, a camera and binoculars. He was sentenced to a month in jail in February for the criminal charge.

The fourth writ, for $25,256.00, names five defendants — Anthony Larsen, 20, Marco Lacerte, 25, Corey Prince, 20, Jordan Ryan Reid, 20, and Steven Segouin — alleging they along with unknown rioters John Doe 1-3 and Jane Doe 1-3 damaged the store’s windows, doors, steel gates and security gate, and stole inventory, including food, cosmetics, cigarettes and electronic goods.

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Reid in March was sentenced in criminal court to eight months’ house arrest, and fined $1,500, and three others have pleaded guilty but have yet to be sentenced. Segouin hasn’t been charged in the riots.

The defendants have 14 to 30 days to file a reply.

Powell said his lawyers are preparing writs against an additional eight to 21 looters, expected to be filed before the two-year filing deadline, June 15.

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