Vancouver police want rest of Canada to take their criminals back
2 hours, 7 minutes ago
CALGARY (CBC) - As many as 2,500 people walking on Vancouver streets are wanted by police agencies in other provinces and an unprecedented effort is under way to get them back to where they allegedly committed their crimes, CBC News has learned.
Vancouver police have made a list of the people wanted on "non-returnable" warrants and officers walking their beats aim to arrest them and ship them back. With such warrants, the issuing jurisdiction is not willing to pay the transportation costs involved in returning suspects for prosecution.
"We'll be able to track their path across the country. It starts out east in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, and you'll see they have warrants in all of these provinces," Const. Steve Addison told CBC News on Wednesday.
The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department have long known about this problem but it's felt most acutely on the West Coast.
"There are a lot of people that we find especially coming to B.C. for the obvious reason. I mean, it's January and you can basically sleep on the street," Const. Dan Petre told CBC News.
"The other reason is this is the last place in the country they [the wanted people] actually don't have warrants," Addison said.
A study conducted by the Vancouver Police Department's Planning, Research and Audit Section in March 2006 shows more than 90 per cent of the "non-returnables" contacted by police said they knew about the warrant for their arrest and 36 per cent admitted to leaving the warrant jurisdiction in order to avoid arrest.
For Petre and Addison, catching these criminals isn't the problem - it's the fact that their home provinces don't want them back.
People wanted on non-returnable warrants often think that being in Vancouver means they won't get arrested and sent back because of the cost involved, Addison said, but Vancouver police are now willing to pay the bill.
Not long after the start of their shift on Tuesday, Petre and Addison found the first name on their list at a seedy hotel in the Downtown Eastside. They were looking for an Adam Croft wanted on several charges in Toronto, the most serious one being assault causing bodily harm.
"It is a small neighbourhood. As you see, people are out and about on the streets. We run into people all the time," Addison said.
"We knew where this fellow lived and we went and checked the registry and he's there. It's just a matter of knocking on the door."
A CBC News reporter and cameraperson went with the officers during the arrest but were not allowed inside the hotel. It didn't take long for the officers to return to say Croft was shocked to learn he was being arrested.
Croft's first reaction was that he's only wanted on non-returnable warrants, Petre said.
"We told him we were going to place him under arrest for a number of warrants in Ontario," Petre said. "We started this new program and try to enforce it and this particular individual that we arrested, he broke down. He was basically distraught."
Vancouver police offered to escort Croft back to Toronto, which would cost about $2,500, Addison said, and Toronto police accepted the offer.
However, a lawyer for Croft told police Wednesday his client decided to plead guilty to all of the charges so there is no longer a need to fly him to Toronto as he will be sentenced in Vancouver. If he's convicted and sentenced to jail, Croft will serve time in B.C.
Vancouver police said they will keep working down their list of people wanted on non-returnable warrants.