A post on March 26 by Pete Fisher on his web site Today’s Northumberland said that “despite an overwhelming trail of evidence, Cobourg police had still made no arrests for a break-in”. Today, S/Sgt Brent Allison told me that they know who the suspect is and are in the process of issuing a warrant. The man is known to police but has no fixed address so it may take a while to put him in custody. Although Brent conceded that a “scene of crime officer should have perhaps been sent to the break-in”, the rest of the story is also more nuanced. The original story by Pete was quite negative about Police performance but most people have not experienced the apparent slow response of this case (see link below for the original report).
Sequence of Events
A mix of an extract from the report on Today’s Northumberland (see link below) and information from S/Sgt Brent Allison of Cobourg police as noted.
Today’s Northumberland: Around 4 p.m. on October 27 a friend visiting the residence [in Downtown Cobourg] saw evidence of a break-in when they opened the front door. Things were in disarray in the hallway and fearing someone was still in the house they left the house immediately.
Today’s Northumberland and Police: The friend called the Owner (Elizabeth Ewart) who was in Belgium at the time and she in turn called Police.
Today’s Northumberland: “I told the dispatcher that my house had been burgled and I believed the burglar might still be in the house.”
Police: The police were called at 5:40. The dispatcher did not report to Police that the burglar might still be in the house. Or at least it was not recorded in the Dispatcher’s log.
Today’s Northumberland: An hour later, Ewart called Cobourg Police dispatch again and was dumbfounded to learn that no officers had been to her house yet. “I repeated that it was possible the burglar was in the house.”
Police: Again this message about a burglar still in the house was not recorded in the Dispatcher’s log.
Today’s Northumberland and Police: One officer was dispatched and arrived at 7:20 but he heard something so called for backup.
Today’s Northumberland: By the time the second officer had arrived the suspect fled out the front door. The suspect fled so fast, his hat was found on the road. “Obviously, his fingerprints were on the doorknob and yet the police did not dust for fingerprints.” ….. there is no image of him on any cameras situated in the downtown area.
Police: S/Sgt Brent Allison conceded that perhaps a “scene of crime officer” should have been dispatched. Downtown cameras were working but did not collect useful images because they pan and did not see the event.
Today’s Northumberland: Ewart describes the home as being vandalized, ransacked and everything of value that could carried away was stolen. (More damage was described.)
Police: The officers noticed disarray but no particular damage. Brent was sympathetic to the trauma caused by break-ins. Police offered “victim services” to Elizabeth.
Today’s Northumberland: Ewart said she received her late brother’s bank statement in the mail and his account had almost been cleaned out. “Obviously, the same person or persons who burgled the house and rooted through every drawer must have found his bank card or cheque book.” “This brazen criminal spent several thousand dollars of my brother’s money on King Street, on everything from a $7.00 sandwich to $500 a time at the Mac’s Milk Store across from the police station.” A cheque was cashed at one point for $1,500.
Police: This created a fraud case that the Police pursued and they found a photo from an ATM that clearly showed the suspect. The man is known to Police and has no fixed address. However, paperwork to create a warrant for him is currently being processed.
Note that in the course of the investigation, there was significant correspondence by email between Police and Elizabeth Ewart. Progress may have been slow, but she was kept in the loop.
- Police were not informed by the Dispatcher that someone might still be in the house
- They should have done a better job collecting evidence
- The Police will shortly have a warrant out for the suspect so an arrest is likely soon.
- Post on Today’s Northumberland re “no arrests by Police”
- List of “Other Local News Sources” at this page.
Update 29 March 2018
All police dispatchers keep a taped record of all calls. Deputy Chief Paul VandeGraaf said that a review of the tapes for the time when the call was made on this incident showed that at no time was the dispatcher told that there was someone in the house. She said that someone “had” been in the house. So the dispatcher did not tell Police there was someone in the house because they had no reason to believe there was. So the evidence does not support the claim by Elizabeth Ewart.