Some Internet sleuthing by a victim of auto crime played an integral role in the arrest of a prolific offender by the regional crime unit.
On March 15, a Victoria man saw what he believed to be his laptop, which had been recently stolen from his car, for sale on an online classifieds site. He replied to the ad and supplied Victoria Police with a cellphone number and name of the 24-year-old woman he contacted.
Through the Prime database, the Victoria officer recognized the woman, who has had 200 prior police contacts, and passed the tip along to the Regional Crime Unit, which includes members from Oak Bay police.
Two days later, members of the unit executed a search warrant in the 800-block of Jolly Pl. in Saanich and seized a quantity of other items including electronics, bicycles, luggage and identification. Three men inside the residence at the time were arrested and released.
Natasha Jean Day was charged with theft under $5,000 for the laptop. More charges are expected as the investigation continues.
“As soon as we saw the opportunity, we recognized that within a day or two, we would probably have success in recovering this stolen property and others as well,” said Sgt. Gary Schenk of the Regional Crime Unit.
Schenk encourages victims of property theft to look for their own stolen items online, since the 10-member unit does monitor those sites but does not have the resources to search each file on an ongoing basis. If someone believes they have identified their stolen property online, they should contact the seller, but keep the exchange minimal, as in this case, Schenk said. “We don’t want them to necessarily investigate any further on their own because it could jeopardize any future criminal investigation, but (a phone number) is a great lead, (providing) tremendous suspect information and we’re more than happy to take it from there.”
Last year, Lordco auto parts was involved in a similar buy and bust, when an employee recognized property for sale on Used Victoria .com and called police.
Schenk reminds the public that used goods advertised online are mostly legitimate, yet sites such as Craigslist and Used Victoria remain a tool in ongoing investigations.