In a House of Lies: Ian Rankin

Unlike many top-quality police/mystery writers whose amazing early work gets tired and self-derivative at some point, Rankin’s Rebus series never does. John Rebus may be superannuated, but Rankin’s writing never is.

Go back to his first (non-Rebus) novel and the growth and progression ever since is amazing to see.

Rebus’ Scottish mafia crime boss Big Ger Cafferty isn’t quite as good as the crazed New York Irish mafia butcher in Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder series, but it’s not for want of trying.


Canuck the crow steals crime scene weapon from jaws of the police

Did Canuck the crow swoop off with a knife from a Vancouver crime scene?
Crow in question appears to be the notorious Canuck
By Tamara Baluja, CBC News Posted: May 25, 2016 5:46 PM PT Last Updated: May 27, 2016 5:56 AM PT

Murder most foul! Vancouver crow attacks mapped in new project
Canuck the crow, Vancouver’s most notorious bird, is being accused of flying away with a knife from a crime scene.

The crow has quite a reputation in Vancouver and its antics are regularly chronicled on social media, including a dedicated Facebook page that has a profile photo of the bird holding a knife in its beak.

Earlier on Tuesday, police had shot a man near Hastings and Cassiar streets. They were called to the scene of a car engulfed in flames. When they arrived, police said, they were confronted by a man with a knife.

Shots were fired and the man was arrested.

Police shooting, car fire, shut down Hastings and Cassiar

Vancouver Courier reporter Mike Howell said he saw the bird — which had a red tag on its leg as does Canuck — swoop in and pick up an object from inside an area cordoned off by police tape.

“A cop chased it for about 15 to 20 feet, and then the crow dropped it and took off,” Howell told CBC.

“It was really strange. In my 20-plus years reporting from crime scenes, I’ve never seen anything like that crow trying to take a knife.”

Vancouver police confirmed a bird did indeed take off with crime scene evidence.

“The crow was persistent, but the knife was eventually gathered as evidence,” Const. Brian Montague said in an email.

The bird was also spotted sitting on the roof of the burned car and trying to get into a camera operator’s gear.

Infamous bird

Among its other exploits, Canuck attacked a cyclist in East Vancouver last year and posed for a mock interview with CBC journalist Dan Burritt.

It was also spotted riding the SkyTrain.

This particular crow was raised by humans and is a common fixture around its East Vancouver neighbourhood.

Anatomy of a crime

Crows are known to be curious and intelligent creatures, so why would it pick up a knife?

Wayne Goodey, a zoology lecturer at UBC, said city crows are sometimes attracted to shiny things.

“They might associate a shiny foil with edibles or food wrapping from a restaurant,” he said. “And they have no way of knowing it’s not food until they put it in their beaks.”

He also said the knife’s green handle might have appeared like food to the crow and piqued its interest.

“It was a crime of opportunity.”

Vancouver cop goes undercover as vulnerable victim in attempted robbery sting, but only manages to get his picture taken

Undercover police operation in Downtown Eastside uncovers kindness


An undercover investigation in the Downtown Eastside targeting violent offenders who target people living with disabilities didn’t yield an arrest, but showed a supportive community, Vancouver police say.
An undercover police operation meant to catch criminals who prey on those most vulnerable instead turned up an outpouring of kindness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

During May and June, Vancouver police conducted a probe to find out who was responsible for 28 offences — including six robberies, 21 assaults and one sexual assault — against wheelchair-dependent people in the city since January 2014.

Undercover operator Staff-Sgt. Mark Horsley, who spent 16 hours over five days posing as a quadriplegic who’d suffered brain damage and a broken neck in a motorcycle accident, said the goal was to create an opportunity for an assault or robbery, but no one took the bait.

“Every single deployment, multiple people — and these are people that we know the profiles of, we know their criminal histories, we know where they’re at — they still wouldn’t stoop so low as to rob somebody who was that vulnerable,” Horsley said. “They did nothing but express care and concern and compassion.”

During his 300 interactions with the public, Horsley was asked if he had someone to care for him and a place to go, and if he was hungry.

Though he didn’t ask for it, many people gave him food and money.

To tempt potential thieves, Horsley carried an iPad, a camera and a fanny pack with money sticking out of it, which several people warned him to secure and one man even zipped up for him.

Insp. Howard Chow said that while the project didn’t lead to any arrests, it highlighted “the caring and the compassion and the overwhelmingly strong sense of community that exists in the Downtown Eastside.”

Chow said even when Horsley asked for help while bartering with area residents, no one shortchanged the undercover officer.

“In fact, at the end of it we were $24 ahead of when we started,” Chow said.

Walt Lawrence, a peer support worker who has used a wheelchair since a diving injury decades ago, helped Horsley prepare for the operation. Lawrence said the treatment Horsley received represents his own experience as someone with a disability.

“It’s amazing just how kind and how helpful people can be,” he said.

Chow said catching the person or people responsible for the 28 offences remains a priority for police.

No good deed goes unpunished…your Canadian government at “work”


In 2001, I appeared before a committee of the Ontario legislature and predicted that Bill 155 — the province’s proposed “civil forfeiture” law — would violate the property rights of innocent individuals. The government passed the bill anyway, and other provinces soon followed suit.

These civil forfeiture laws — which few Canadians have even heard of — allow provincial governments to seize property that has allegedly been used in crime, or may constitute the proceeds of crime, even if nobody has ever been charged with, let alone convicted of, a related offence.

One unfortunate victim of Ontario’s law is Margaret Reilly of Orillia. Following in the footsteps of her father, an Anglican priest who operated a youth hostel for many years, Mrs. Reilly has worked with disadvantaged people from a young age. Her husband Terry, an insurance broker, shared her concern for the needy. He sat on the local housing committee, aiming to remedy the city’s homelessness problem.

Together, the couple tried to provide private housing for disadvantaged individuals in two rooming houses that they owned. They improved the houses and brought them up to fire code. Most of their tenants were referred to them by social workers, but sometimes even Orillia’s mayor would send people. The tenants were poor, uneducated and often on welfare. Many had addiction or mental health problems.

The Reillys actively assisted their tenants, driving them to detox centres and occasionally offering them employment. But some of the tenants apparently continued to use illegal drugs. Some may even have sold illicit drugs from their rooms. The Ontario government labelled the properties “crack houses” and claimed that the rents received by the Reillys — most of which came from tenants’ welfare payments — were “proceeds of crime.”

B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office can seize and sell citizens’ property — without so much as a criminal charge being laid
Marni Soupcoff: Ontario’s civil-forfeiture racket
In September 2008, heavily armed Ontario Provincial Police officers swooped in and seized the properties. The government got an order to “manage, preserve and secure” the houses, pending a trial to determine whether it would get to keep them.

Instead, the government has allowed the properties to degrade into a dilapidated state over the past six years. The Reillys’ private detective took photos proving that the drug dealing was ongoing, and possibly even more prevalent, under the province’s management. The province finally boarded the houses up three years ago and now complains about the expense of “maintaining” them.

Despite the squads of armed police officers at its disposal, the province was unable to prevent illegal activity in these houses, but somehow expected the landlords to do so. Police would go there armed “to ensure the safety of [the] officers,” but the landlords were supposed to evict the same tenants who frightened the cops without any backup or weaponry.

Mrs. Reilly did in fact seek an eviction order for three tenants, but the Landlord and Tenant Board denied it. I’m not surprised. I’ve seen tenants smirk out of a courtroom after a judge gave them yet another chance that their exhausted landlord was unwilling to grant. How many times was Mrs. Reilly supposed to try to evict her more problematic tenants before concluding that the system wouldn’t let her?

And who enabled these tenants to maintain their unemployed lifestyle while dealing drugs in the first place? The provincial government did, through its welfare system. The same government that then expected two private individuals to clean up the mess it had created, the same government that now proposes to steal Mrs. Reilly’s property because she couldn’t do what the province itself failed to do.

Recently, a judge held that the properties are to be sold, even though the trial still has not been held to determine whether Mrs. Reilly should get them back. In their current state — described by the government lawyer as “filthy,” and so bad that the government’s asset administrator donned a “hazmat suit” to enter — they won’t fetch much.

I suspect this particular mess may have had more to do with Orillia’s plan to renovate its downtown — by constructing a new library and civic square — without paying the compensation that normal expropriation procedures would have triggered. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been squandered on legal fees on both sides, and more will be spent on the trial.

This is the result of a law that was sold as a means of fighting organized crime and assisting crime victims. Sometimes it’s very rewarding being able to say “I told you so,” but this is one case where it’s hard to take much satisfaction over having been right 13 years ago.

National Post

Karen Selick is the litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

Kids Playing With Guns….Canadian Style

A better way for cops to deal with young men holding guns….

9-1-1 call about firearm confirmed as replica gun, Moncton, N.B.


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Codiac Regional RCMP is reminding the public of the importance of the proper handling of replica firearms after an incident at a public park in Moncton on Sunday.

Police officers responded to a complaint on December 21, 2014 at approximately 4:30 p.m. of two males with a handgun in a public park. The 9-1-1 call also reported that the firearm was being pointed towards a person.

When police arrived on the scene, one of the males pointed the weapon towards a police officer. The officers took cover and pulled out their service pistols. The officers ordered the two boys, ages 14 and 15, to drop the weapon and lay on the ground with their arms outstretched which they did.

No one was hurt and it was determined that the firearm the youths were handling was a type of airsoft gun, made to look like a legitimate firearm.

“The public is quick to call police when they see someone holding a firearm in public,” states Staff Sergeant Mark Janes of the Codiac RCMP. “These types of guns are not toys. As police officers, we have to assume that the weapon is real and take necessary action to protect ourselves and the public. This is a potential life and death situation and it is fortunate in this case that no one was hurt. ”

Police met with the youths’ parents and destroyed the replica firearm. The police are also asking parents to be aware of what their children may have and ensure they are using such items in a responsible and safe manner.



Mounties Draw Guns At Moncton Park

Codiac RCMP say pellet guns that look like real firearms are not toys and need to be properly handled. The warning comes after a potentially deadly situation on Sunday at a Moncton park. Responding to a 911 call at a park off West Street, Mounties had to seek cover behind a car and pull their service pistols on a couple of teen aged boys, after one of them pointed an air soft-type gun at them. The boys, aged 14 and 15, were ordered to drop the weapon and lie flat on the ground. Staff-Sgt Mark Janes says the members had no idea the gun was a fake and acted appropriately. Janes says officers spoke to the parents of the boys and have decided not to lay charges. The gun, however, has been destroyed. Janes says the message they want to send to parents is that these weapons are not toys and they should not be used in a public place where people can mistake them for real guns.