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Mapping break-ins prompts bigger questions
It's a curious, curious tale, I figure.
A young (apparently) eastern European man with no criminal record or history of trouble with the law is spotted as a suspicious person inside an Elmwood apartment block, where witnesses say they noticed the "unassuming" stranger had a backpack and pick-like objects on him.
And then, boom: he's charged (and presumed innocent) with 35 break and enter-related counts in connection with police reports which had been piling up in the back offices of the East and West Districts for a year.
What makes this case curious is the apparent level of sophistication.
If what's been alleged proves true, the burglaries involved the use of lock picks and a special "high frequency" listening device, ostensibly to assist in picking said locks.
In other words, these were no basic smash and grabs.
I've mapped out the numerous break-and-enter events and their timing, which all occurred at apartments.
Results of that effort are below.
Now, I had limited data to work with, just the dates of the alleged offences and the block addresses at which they happened, and in most cases a gender of the person who lived there.
But even this small amount of data, when laid out on a map, raises certain questions.
At the top of the inquiry pile is: Were these B&E's targeted events? Was the culprit somehow led to these specific addresses after being tipped off that something of value could be found there?
Initially, between March 2013 and the end of April, the target sites were apartments in Transcona and North Kildonan.
But then, to kick off May, there was an event on Clayton Drive - many, many kilometres away from the usual area of interest.
By June, it becomes a hodgepodge of locations, stretching into south Pembina Highway. It's weird.
Then comes a month-long recess in activity that concludes with an event on St. Anne's Road - but resumes back in Transcona, at a block which had already been hit several times before.
Then, consider the four-month gap in events between 22 October, 2013 and mid-February back in Transcona. What went on in this period? Note, also that the Oct 22, 2013 event took place at the exact apartment where the suspect was collared this past week.
You can read about that encounter here.
Now, it could be that there were other events in the intervening months which simply weren't reported to police. That's entirely possible.
But what we're left with given the charges and the timing of the allegations is the possibility this was just the tip of the iceberg.
I wonder, as would anyone, about the contents of the suspect's backpack, and what was discussed — if anything — in his police interview after his arrest.
I also wonder about the story of a note being left behind at the Oct. 22 event on Poplar Avenue — one stating the thefts were as a result of a lack of legitimate employment in Canada for immigrants, and that a group of people was behind that break-in.
As I said: It's a curious case.
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About James Turner
James Turner rejoined the Free Press as a justice-beat reporter in August 2013 after a number of years away working at other media outlets, including the Winnipeg Sun and CBC Manitoba.
A reporter in Winnipeg since 2005, he got his first taste of the justice beat as a former Free Press intern, then as the newspaper's police reporter from 2008-09.
Among the topics he's eager to cover are youth crime, street gangs, child-welfare and how the mental health and justice systems intersect.
An avid blogger and early adopter of Twitter, James (@heyjturner) loves to write long, much to the frustration of his editors.
He despises animal cruelty. He loves 80s music and his tubby labrador retriever.
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