Warrant Now Being Issued for Suspect in October Break-in

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

Staff Sgt Brent Allison
Staff Sgt Brent Allison

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.

In summary,

  • 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.


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.

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Deborah OConnor
31 March 2018 1:50 pm

For the record: the statement I made about police earning money by doing record checks stated “Meanwhile they bring in piles of cash-hundreds of thousands I believe-from doing record checks for volunteers as well as Freedom of Information requests”. Dubious and then Mr. Pagneulo jumped all over me , zeroing in on FOI requests and ignoring the rest of my words about criminal background checks.

So not only do both of these men owe me an apology for piling on me in their eagerness for me to be wrong, they also owe me an apology for the fact they were wrong, not me. I was right all along.

Not holding my breath on that though, but if this teaches them that I know what I am talking about, then I have achieved something. Sorry boys but the women are not retreating to the kitchen in 2018. Or ever again. Get used to it.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
31 March 2018 2:11 pm

An apology? I “zeroed in” on your FOI comment because it was incorrect; the background check portion of your assertion was correct. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge regarding the town’s finances would know that the background checks are a significant source of revenue (except for Wally who feels that a million dollars is not significant).

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
31 March 2018 5:24 pm

You’re not really going to play that card here, are you?

Paul Pagnuelo
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
31 March 2018 6:34 pm

First of all, nobody was jumping all over you trying to prove you wrong. Anything but. I simply referenced the CPS 2015 Annual Report, which highlighted that criminal record checks accounted for a significant portion of gross revenue. FOIs are another revenue source but in the grand scheme of total gross revenue are not deemed a material amount from an accounting perspective.
This is making a mountain out of a molehill.

Wally Keeler
31 March 2018 11:36 am

So Bryan clarifies the FOI revenue: “Police FOI revenue is not listed in the Town’s budget. It is likely included in the Police Receipts revenue; $42.8K (2017), $55K (2018 budget).”

Finally a bit more substance than the mere suspicion.of Paul Pagnuelo who claims that FOI requests “are not a significant income source.” Really!? Is this how the CTA regards revenue of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars?

Then there is Dubious who hasn’t a clue asking “How can FOI requests at $5 each be a source of significant revenue?

Well, it appears that the local tightwads consider revenue under $100,000 to be insignificant. We’ll keep that in mind going forward to the fall elections.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
31 March 2018 1:48 pm

So Wally, Dubious hasn’t a clue regarding how FOI revenue can be a significant source of revenue. Do you?
In a budget exceeding $6M what is a “significant” amount?
At $5 ea, It takes 200 FOI requests to generate $1K in revenue. 200! Is it reasonable that the Cobourg Police would get 200 FOI requests in a year?
Cobourg Police offer a variety of fee based services collectively generating about $50K per year including: alarm registration, fingerprinting FOI and providing reports($40 ea): vehicle accident, theft, lost property, break & enter.
And who said anything about the CTA? Paul didn’t. This is your bete-noir Wally, and it’s boring along with your shoot the messenger comments instead of a constructive contribution that moves the issue forward.

Deborah OConnor introduced the topic of FOI as a revenue source, seemingly putting it on an equal footing with the criminal check service that generates $2M+ in revenue per year. It is a reasonable to ask how many FOI at $5 per are required to generate significant (however you define it) revenue.

The bigger issue is why does the Town not include the $2M+ criminal check revenue in the Town’s budget? The cost of running the criminal check business is included in the Town’s budget but not the $2M+ revenue.The police aren’t shy about disclosing that the criminal check business generates $2M+ in revenue, so why is the Town hiding this information?
Further, the Town doesn’t provide information on the police reserve fund that pays for most of the police capital spending ($1.8M in 2018). Why?

29 March 2018 2:46 pm

Pete seems to be persona no grata with the local police. They tend to hold themselves as above the law and above reproach. Personally I’d love to see the OPP running things. . And with no local media or anyone to hold them accountable they’ll likely to continue to behave this way.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Are_n
29 March 2018 3:49 pm

I disagree that policing by the OPP would be better and more accountable. Our local police service is well aware of the threat of that happening, and nothing will make them more accountable than that threat. In fact, given the poor performance of Owen Sound Dispatch on this occasion, I would support the police bringing back local dispatch. Long distance dispatch seems to be both unreliable and unaccountable. After being told twice there was concern the thief might still be in the home, they didn’t pass that on to the Cobourg Police either time.

Our local police force knows the town and its people much more intimately than the OPP could ever achieve. Chief Liu is a big improvement over the last few chiefs. He actually wants his officers to work proactively in the community and we all benefit from that inclusive approach. Our cops may not be perfect but they’re ours and we should appreciate their work on our behalf.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
29 March 2018 7:28 pm

Yes, eliminating local dispatch to save a few bucks which just happened to put a number of women out of good jobs was very proactive….not.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Kyle
29 March 2018 8:01 pm

They are under pressure to lower their costs – all to keep the people happy who think they cost too much and we should dump them and go with the OPP. There’s that threat again, keeping them accountable. Meanwhile they bring in piles of cash-hundreds of thousands I believe-from doing record checks for volunteers as well as Freedom of Information requests.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
29 March 2018 9:38 pm

I am aware of the background checks but I had not heard of their involvement in Freedom of Information requests. Could you provide some details?

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Dubious
30 March 2018 2:04 pm

Easily found on the Cobourg Police Services website listed under Services.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
30 March 2018 3:32 pm

I asked a serious question and you respond with a joke! How can FOI requests at $5 each be a source of significant revenue?

Paul Pagnuelo
Reply to  Dubious
30 March 2018 5:14 pm

FOI requests are not a significant income source. In fact, I would suspect that the number of FOIs are minimal at best.

The significant revenue generator is their third-party criminal record check business activity. According to their website, the Business Services of the Cobourg Police Service “enters into Memorandum of Understandings with various third-party criminal record check screening companies across Canada and the RCMP to process criminal record checks through third party screening companies. The most recent data published indicates that in 2015 it yielded gross revenue of just over $1 Million.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Paul Pagnuelo
30 March 2018 11:20 pm

Record checks are a good source of revenue. But then again, “I would suspect that the number of FOIs are minimal at best.” Of course, suspicions are not facts. It’s just a backhanded way of saying, I dunno nuffin.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
30 March 2018 4:36 pm

Thanks for “providing some details” Deborah. Of course, $5.00 for each application; no refund if the request fails the specificity standards or comes up empty handed. The specificity prevents fishing expeditions. There is allowance for multiple requests. Often the received docs will contain a piece or two of info that requires more enlightenment, so another FOI, $5. Lawyers or law firms would want as much info as they could get their hands on and they have little to lose if they spend a mere $200 or $400 or even $1000 for multiple FOIs. It’s chump change for law firms. It’s the cost of doing business and the law firm recovers the expense in their professional fees. Probably over a year it doesn’t make up a major portion of the police revenue, but some thousands, which is not necessarily insignificant and we shouldn’t sniff contemptuously at it. Thanks again for “providing some details“. Ingrate not.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
30 March 2018 6:48 pm

How many FOI requests relating to police operations do you suppose are processed each year?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
30 March 2018 11:14 pm

Do it yourself

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
31 March 2018 10:53 am

The FOI requests are for information related to the Cobourg police and are not part of the Criminal Background Check business. If you want to know information about Cobourg crime stats, you would file an FOI. Police FOI revenue is not listed in the Town’s budget. It is likely included in the Police Receipts revenue; $42.8K (2017), $55K (2018 budget).

The Police Business Services Department (criminal background check) generated about $2M in 2017. Strangely, while the cost of the Police Business Services Department is included in the Town’s budget, for reasons undisclosed, the revenue is not disclosed anywhere in the budget.
Per the Town’s 2018 budget, the Police Business Services Department 2017 cost was $951K and the budgeted 2018 cost is $1,046,715. Based on $2M+ revenue in 2017 & 2018, about $2M will be added to the Police Business Services Department reserve fund (retained earnings). The total value of the reserve fund is undisclosed.
The Town’s 2018 Capital budget indicates that $1,819,000 will be spent on capital additions: police vehicles $195K, computers $50K, building reno phase 2 $225K and new office facilities (Northam Industrial Park) $1.34M. These capital expenses will be funded by the 2018 and 2017 net earnings.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
30 March 2018 10:47 pm

“Meanwhile they bring in piles of cash-hundreds of thousands I believe-from doing record checks for volunteers as well as Freedom of Information requests.”

Where does all that money go? Who gets to decide how/where to spend it?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
30 March 2018 11:15 pm

find out for yourself and let us know.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
30 March 2018 7:43 am

I would take great exception to your post The Chief to drag the CPS into the 21st Century was the previous one – Paul Sweet, a local boy made good in every way.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  ben
30 March 2018 2:06 pm

I will, of course, defer to you since you know more about them than I do. Can we just say Chief Liu is one of the best?

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
30 March 2018 6:20 pm

You could have done if he hadn’t tossed the dispatchers overboard to get a dubious service from Owen Sound!

29 March 2018 2:01 pm

I wonder why Cobourg Police would not invite Todays Northumberland too as well and attempt to clarify the issue? With the collapse of traditional print media and the resources they had including legal. It certainly gives potential opportunity for public institutions to freeze out the new media.

29 March 2018 1:09 pm

Keystones Cops by the sounds of it. I would love to see the chronology of events by date on this one.

29 March 2018 2:12 am

The woman whose home was burglarized has got reason to complain. When the police admit “they should have done a better job collecting evidence” isn’t that an admission of incompetence? “Perhaps a ‘scene of crime officer’ should have been dispatched”? If a “scene of crime officer” isn’t dispatched when a criminal has just run out of a front door, when are they dispatched?