Google search and ads lead straight to thief

Sarah Deeth, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:30 PM ET

PETERBOROUGH -- Shawn Cromwell made it pretty easy for police to find him – with an assist from the homeowner he had stolen from.

The 26-year-old was selling stolen goods on the web-based classified site Kijiji, Ontario Court of Justice heard Tuesday, listing his real name, address and phone number as a point of contact.

Cromwell pleaded guilty to charges of break and enter, three counts of possession of property obtained by crime, unsafe storage of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a proper licence.

Crown attorney Jim Hughes said items valued at about $5,000, including a drill press, were stolen from a Galway-Cavendish and Harvey home June 25.

But the thief left one item behind, a cigarette butt that police sent to the Centre of Forensic Science in Toronto for analysis.

The results came back in August, Hughes said, and showed that Cromwell’s DNA matched the DNA on the butt. Cromwell had provided a DNA sample to police after a previous unrelated conviction.

Police began preparing a warrant to obtain a DNA sample from Cromwell to make sure they had a match. They also asked the homeowner who was robbed if he knew Cromwell, Hughes said.

The two were strangers. But the homeowner did a Google search using Cromwell’s name, which sent him to the ads on Kijiji.

Hughes said the homeowner saw his property for sale and called police. An officer, posing as a prospective buyer, called Cromwell to confirm the details of the sale.

Police arrived at Cromwell’s apartment armed with a warrant. Inside they found several pieces of identification that didn’t belong to him and a .22-gauge rifle that had been reported as stolen.

Cromwell’s charges have been adjourned to Nov. 20 for sentencing. He’s spent 29 days in pretrial custody.

sarah.deeth@sunmedia.ca

 

A 16-year-old Ontario boy was given a stern warning by police for posting an online ad that offered two children for sale.

Chatham-Kent police said the ad included photos and stated that the kids had to be gone in a week or they'd be put on the streets.

A concerned citizen called police at about 9:30 p.m., Thursday night.

Police tracked down the teen, who admitted to posting it as a joke.

Investigators confirmed no children were at risk and he was warned about his actions.

Chatham is about 75 km east of Windsor, Ont.

Facing a handgun instead of a fistful of dollars convinced a computer tablet owner that a man who responded to his Kijiji ad wasn’t interested in a purchase, Toronto Police said.

But instead of handing over his Apple iPad as demanded, the owner fled without being injured, Det.-Const. Mario Catenaccio said Tuesday.

The 23-year-old called police, providing details about the bogus buyer. Police made an arrest two days later.

Major crime unit officers from 12 Division also seized a replica semi-automatic pistol, Catennacio said.

The tablet owner listed the handheld device for sale on the popular free Internet classified ad site last Wednesday, asking between $600 and $650.

But when the pair, who corresponded by e-mail, text messages and phone, met Friday on a street in the Lawrence Ave. W.-Brookhaven Dr. area, Catennacio said the expected buyer tried to steal the iPad at gunpoint.

Despite the would-be robber’s fake handgun, “the victim believed it to be real,” he said.

Investigators are concerned that other Kijiji users may have been ripped off, Catenaccio said.

“If there are more victims, please come forward to police,” he urged.

Catenaccio also warned that anyone considering meeting a stranger for a potential sale or purchase “to be cautious when meeting someone you don’t know.

“They met in mid-afternoon, in broad daylight,” he said. “The victim thought he was safe.”

Meneliki Jafari David-Lee, 21, faces charges of using a firearm to commit indictable offence, robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, and threatening death.

Police have displayed a large cache of stolen guns and silver found in a Toronto man’s home in the hope of locating the owners.

“Members from 53 Criminal Investigation Bureau commenced a criminal investigation in relation to stolen silverware. As a result of that investigation a 37-year-old male identified as Donato Gualtieri, also known as Danny, from Toronto was arrested for possession of stolen property obtained by crime,” said Det. Rob Ermacora.

A woman called police telling them her stolen silverware that she had reported earlier was being sold on Kijiji.

Police identified the man trying to sell the silverware and after a brief struggle Gualtieri was placed under arrest.

Two search warrants were performed on a Toronto home and vehicle and police seized 35 firearms, approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition and a quantity of silverware.

“We are asking for the public’s assistance to help us identify the lawful owners of this property. We are unable to determine at this time how Mr. Gualtieri came into possession of this property. We believe that there are more victims. Anybody with information is asked to contact 53 Division at 416-808-5300,” Ermacora said.

The case is still under investigation so Ermacora wouldn’t comment further.

Gualtieri was charged last Saturday with three counts of possession of property obtained by crime over, two counts of possession of property obtained by crime under, careless storage of a firearm and six counts of careless storage of ammunition.

His next court appearance will be on June 19 in College Park Courts.

Police in Nova Scotia are investigating after someone posted an online ad offering someone else's baby for sale.

The posting appeared briefly Friday on classifieds website Kijiji, according to Cape Breton Regional Police.

The ad listed a two-month-old Sydney, N.S., baby boy for sale and provided the contact information of his parents, police said.

Police visited the home and found the mother and her seven-month-old child were not in distress. The mother wasn't aware of the posting.

Police are trying to track down who posted the ad but currently suspect it was just a bad joke.

The post has since been removed from Kijiji.

A former American college football star is grateful after an Internet-savvy Good Samaritan in London tracked down his stolen championship ring.

A London woman was scouring the online classified site Kijiji when she came across an usual item: a 2001 National Orange Bowl Championship football ring.

Curious, she clicked on the link and saw the gold ring had "Womble #91" engraved on it.

"I saw this ad for a national championship ring . . . and I'm thinking, 'who is going to sell their ring?' " said the woman, who didn't want to be identified.

It was listed for $1,500.

The tech-savvy woman did some online research and soon learned the ring belonged to Jeff Womble, 30, who played nose tackle for Fllorida State University (FSU) from 1999 to 2003.

Digging deeper, she discovered the ring had been stolen.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Womble and his mother, Avis Williams, returned to her Atlanta, Ga., home Nov. 26 and found the house had been burglarized. Electronics, Womble's national championship ring and three Atlantic Coast Conference rings were nicked.

"This is wild. I can't believe that my son's ring went from Georgia to Canada," Williams said from Atlanta Tuesday.

"Electronics and TVs and computers -- you replace those things. But when it's something of sentimental value, those things can't be replaced."

Her son planned to hand the rings down to his children one day, Williams said.

The Londoner contacted Womble on Facebook and told him about the ring, offering to buy it and send it to him.

Womble, instead, told her to call police.

Police contacted the seller and recovered the stolen ring from a London resident who acquired it through a private sale, said Const. Dennis Rivest.

"It's going to be returned shortly. Arrangements are being made," Rivest said.

The seller wasn't charged.

Atlanta police told Williams they arrested an 11-year-old boy after investigators found a letter from his school at scene of the break-in.

During a phone conversation, Womble told the London woman he was thrilled to be getting his ring back.

She maintains she would have gladly paid the $1,500 to buy it for him.

"It's a small price to pay . . . if somebody's lost something that precious," she said.

TINY, Ont. – Raymond Marchildon is worried about the four puppies stolen from the backyard of his home in Ontario's Tiny Township.

The 71-year-old man woke up on April 4 and went out to the dog house he just built for his boxers, Missy and Levi, and found someone had taken four or their nine-week-old female puppies.

"Oh my God. I really can't explain it, but right away I knew," Marchildon said. "I didn't lock the door, but how was I to know that someone was going to come and steal my dogs?"

The litter of eight had just been de-wormed, but still require their medical injections. Marchildon is worried the culprits may neglect the puppies' health.

"I don't know if they know, but those dogs are in danger if they aren't taken care of properly," he said. "I just want them back safe."

The culprits took four out of five fawn-coloured pups and left behind three white-haired pups, which suggests the thief knew white pups are prone to health problems, Marchildon said.

Alison Cross of the Ontario SPCA said puppies are often stolen by would-be pet owners, but money is usually the prime motive.

"If it's a pure-bred animal, it could be purely because it's an expensive animal, and they want to make some money on it,” she said.

Boxer puppies are listed between $800 and $1,000 on the classified site Kijiji.

"It could be to breed them, to sell them -- it could be simply because they wanted the dogs. There's so many different reasons someone would steal an animal," she said. "Where they are going and what the intents are we really don't know, and that's where police come in."

Provincial police continue to investigate the theft and Const. Dave Hobson urges the public to come forward if they have any information.

"Did someone steal them to sell them? Did they steal them to possess them? It's hard to say at this point," he said. "All you can do is possibly locate the animals and hopefully through the investigation see where they came from."

Cross worries the pets may not be getting care for any special needs.

"Animals should be provided with the best care possible," she said. "Even as puppies you may not know what food or requirements are needed for those animals."

Pet thieves often use classified ads to sell stolen animals, but potential dog owners should be cautious of where the pet came from, Cross said.

"Our concern is for the animals. Nobody ever wants this to happen to their pet," she said. "If you see an ad on Kijiji, you want to see a picture of the mother or father. They should let you meet one of the animals or see where they live."

Every time the phone rings, Marchildon hopes it's the police about to tell him he will be reunited with his puppies.

"I was in bed and thought I should lock the door, but I fell asleep and woke up the next morning and they were gone," he said.

barrie.news@sunmedia.com

 

EDMONTON - An Edmonton man is claiming he was swindled out of $10,000 Tuesday night by a Kijiji savvy scam artist.

Dustin Stone, 21, says he was the victim of a con artist who used the popular website to sell him a car for $10,000 and then proceeded to run off with his money.

On July 10, Stone answered an ad on Kijiji for a 2011 Ford Focus.

The ad's owner claimed he had inherited the car, and needed to sell it quickly to pay his debts, said Stone.

"He said his grandmother died and he inherited the car and needed to sell it quick and cheap," he explained, adding the suspect requested cash only.

Though skeptical, Stone decided to pursue the online deal and exchanged information with the seller.

He cleaned out his savings account and borrowed $3,000 from his mother to pay for the car.

"It was going to be for me and my mom, so we could both use it, so she helped me out to buy it," he said.

He met with the man to check the condition of the car, and after verifying the VIN number at a local registry on Tuesday, he felt confident he was getting a good deal.

Unfortunately for Stone, the deal turned out to be too good to be true.

When Stone and his aunt Sandra arrived around 8:30 p.m. at the meeting point -- an apartment complex on 44 Ave. in Stony Plain, nothing seemed amiss.

The group chatted about the car, and the seller asked to count the cash while Stone took the keys and filled out the vehicle registration.

Then, without warning, the man, equipped with another set of keys, took off, with both the car and the cash.

Stone filed a complaint with Stony Plain RCMP and officers say they are investigating the scam.

Mounties issued a warning Wednesday urging people to be careful when making transactions with large amounts of cash.

Stone says he wishes someone had warned him.

"I thought I did everything right, checked out the VIN number, got a car proof done," he said. "I guess if something seems to good to be true, it probably is."

RCMP are asking anyone with information about the crime to call police at 780-960-6571.

 

 


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