Former thief orchestrates ‘Christmas break-in’ that gives

This post includes a podcastRobin Marc SmithRobin Marc Smith (inset, 2007 booking photo) had a 30-year career as a Grinch – and he was remarkably good at it – so it’s surprising to see him don a Santa hat so that he can break, enter and give. Smith organized a charity event in a small eastern Ontario town in which a band of holiday ‘bandits’ broke into the house of a needy family. The group of about a dozen people knew the single mom wasn’t home because she had taken her two young children to visit a mall Santa. The group left gifts and $500 cash behind and no clue to their identity. Local media around Tweed, a small village 200 kilometres east of Toronto, reported the feel-good story but with no mention of Smith’s infamous past. Smith tells me (hear the full interview after the jump), that everyone in the Tweed area knows about his past.

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Property crime reports to police skyrocket at Halloween

pumpkincopHalloween crime is still a problem for police across Canada, according to Statistics Canada. The national number crunching agency has released another analysis of scary crime data showing that during Halloween 2014, property crime reports to police skyrocketed roughly 52 per cent from a week earlier. Other crimes spiked, but not at the dramatic rate for property offences. Across all categories, crime reports to police increased 4.5 per cent at Halloween 2014.

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Prison service suffers embarrassing break-in at regional facility

CSC vanThe federal agency entrusted to keep 15,000 criminals safely locked behind bars in more than 50 penitentiaries across Canada apparently can’t safeguard one of its key administrative buildings from simple burglars. The facility in Kingston, Ontario – a site that, according to my sources, houses dozens of high-powered weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition – was burgled recently by a thief who made off with keys to a prison service vehicle. The bandit got away largely because, remarkably, the Correctional Service of Canada regional staff college does not have a security officer on duty at the site overnight because of cost cutting.

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The convict who doesn’t want to leave preparing for release

Federal convict Bill MacNeill says his security rating was jacked up – not because he tried to escape, got caught with a grappling hook or a map of the prison – but because he did an interview. In August, I met MacNeill at Bath Institution, the medium-security federal prison just west of Kingston where he’s behind bars. He said his coming release is doomed to failure because the conditions under which he’ll be forced to live are too onerous. Bill got in touch again recently, and sent along some pages from some recent paperwork (available after the jump) that shows that Corrections authorities paid close attention to interview comments.

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Golf bag bandits hit the jackpot

What’s in your golf bag? Maybe sweaty socks, broken tees, empty beer cans, filthy rags and scorecards you don’t want anyone to see. How about $35,000 worth of diamond rings. That’s what one female duffer was toting in her bag during a recent round at a course just west of Kingston, Ontario. Someone may have seen her stuff the rings into the bag, or perhaps knew they were there – and stole them.

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VIDEO: ‘Don’t let me out’ – Prisoner rejects early release

Movie iconIn September, a razor-wire topped gate at Bath Institution will slide open and inmate Bill MacNeill will walk out, a free man. Not willingly. MacNeill is scheduled for automatic, early release after serving two thirds of his prison sentence. He doesn’t want it. “I was sentenced to two years and I want to do the two years,” the 45-year-old life-long criminal told me in an interview at the medium-security prison just west of Kingston. (MacNeill explains his strange request, in a video after the jump).

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Is parole board second guessing itself in Brenda Martin case?

Brenda MartinThe National Parole Board seems to be backpedaling in the case of Brenda Martin. She’s the Ontario woman who was spirited back to Canada from Mexico in May 2008, after her teary pleas that her conviction in Mexico in a multimillion dollar Internet fraud was a sham. She spent a week in prison in Canada and was paroled – that’s pretty quick turnaround. Martin was released from prison last month, after her second screwup while on parole. The record of the decision to free her again (available in full after the jump), shows that the board keeps pressing Martin to admit she has a booze problem, but “to this day, you are not convinced that you have an alcohol problem.” The board doesn’t say, flat out, that it doesn’t believe her, but you can determine what they think, for yourself, by reading between the lines.

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Has Conrad Black changed his mind about prison?

Jailed swindler Conrad Black once said prison would be “quite endurable,” but after a little more than a year behind bars for fraud and obstruction of justice, he wants out, while he appeals his conviction.

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