Fredericton — The capital city cops are at it again — serving and protecting the public in the only way they know how: strangely and expensively. This time, their efforts come in the form of bribing those responsible for the break-ins that have hit dozens of homes in Fredericton and surrounding areas. Should the thieves return the stolen items to the police station, they will be handed the cash value of the jewels with no questions asked and no charges laid.
“We’re prepared to assess the value of the goods stolen, and use the public’s money to buy it back from the thieves,” said police Chief Leanne Fitch. “We need to be realistic here; we’re not expecting to catch the robbers, so we’ll offer them a big incentive to turn themselves in.”
Officer John McKnight said he has responded to several reports of break-ins in Stanley, where a network of citizens has created a community watch program. “I like that these people have taken the law into their own hands,” said McKnight. “It shows a great deal of initiative and a spirit of collaboration that’s frankly lacking in the police force. I hope they can help us out! But if not, this buyback deal is pretty much our only hope.”
Karen Robinson’s Marysville home was broken into on Saturday night. She said the thief rang her doorbell, and when she answered, he asked a vague question about a vehicle for sale on Kijiji. “I’m not selling my car, so I think he was just trying to figure out whether I was at home,” said Robinson. “I had to go to work shortly after, and when I got back, my place had been ransacked and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry was gone. I called the cops and they said that because my flooring and furnishings are made of wood, they have no way to dust for prints, and that beyond that there’s not much they can do.
“The thing is, I saw the guy and know what he looks like! I even wrote down his licence plate number! Does that count for nothing?”
Fitch said she has a team of several officers working “around the clock” [10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays] to create an itemized list of the stolen jewels. “We have it all right here in this Excel spreadsheet — we add to it every time we get another report of a break-in,” she explained, pointing to her computer monitor. “Our officers then Google the item or physically go to the mall and find a similar item, and type in the retail price next to the entry in the spreadsheet. For example, this stolen watch is worth about $2K. The great thing about Excel is that it does the math for us… isn’t that neat?
“Right now the total value of the stolen items comes to $346 thousand — hopefully Fredericton city council will agree to pony up that cash so we can give it to the thieves at their earliest convenience.”