The Vancouver Police have arrested three people and recovered over $100,000 in stolen property following a large-scale fencing operation in Surrey.
Fencing is when someone buys and resells stolen merchandise, and the VPD’s Anti-Fencing Unit received information in summer 2015 regarding a convenience store on King George Highway in Surrey that they believed was a front for a large fencing operation through buying, selling and ordering large amounts of stolen property.
Called a “predatory fence”, police allege the store’s owners purchased property from drug addicts who were stealing to support their habit. They also apparently acted as a “distribution fence” by purchasing stolen property from “known professional thieves and organized retail crime groups”, according to police.
During search warrants executed at the store and the owners’ residence, police recovered $10,000 in cash and over $100,000 in stolen goods, including razors, perfume and other drug store items. They also found over-the-counter medication they believe was being sold to local meth labs.
They also seized a Mercedes Benz that is alleged to have been used to transport stolen goods.
Two women and one man were arrested, all aged between 49 to 61, and are well-known to police. They have been released while charges are pending.
“The volume of property seized and observed would suggest that hundreds of crimes were being committed every month to fuel this illicit business. The cost of theft is passed directly on to honest consumers, and buyers who support these black market operations are driving up retail prices,” say the Vancouver Police.
Vancouver Police were assisted by Surrey RCMP in the case because some of the stolen property is alleged to have been taken in Vancouver.
“Criminals do not recognize city boundaries,” says VPD Inspector Earl Andersen. “Police agencies will continue to work together on crime committed by chronic and prolific offenders that directly affect and cause an incredible amount of harm to our communities, and enormous losses for legitimate businesses.”
In August of this year, Surrey RCMP alerted the public that $600 worth of Polysporin had been stolen from a Superstore in Surrey. At the time, RCMP Corporal Scotty Schumann told Vancity Buzz there wasn’t much investigating that could be done in the case.
“This happens a lot more than most people think. People will steal just about anything in order to resell it and feed their drug habit. You’d be surprised how many stores buy items off people like this. I was in lost prevention for a long time and I never saw anyone shoplifting a package of hamburger patties to feed their starving family. They’d steal nice sirloin steaks and sell it to restaurants.”
The Vancouver Police Anti-Fencing Unit is now asking anyone who may have information regarding what they call “hot houses”, or underground operations fencing stolen property, to call them at 604-717-3220, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.