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Description: Market Vendor's bike stolen at market. Leads are identified but not pursued by police.
Status: Open
Categories: Safety, Police

Maria's stolen bike

December 22 2006, from Maria Solakofski to the Dufferingrovefriends listserv:

''Maria's bike'

Beautiful market day on solstice December 21, thank you to all who came to support me and pick up their fruitcakes. Something very unfortunate happened though, which is that my BIKE WAS STOLEN. As many of you may feel about your own bikes, this is my vehicle--this baby has ridden me up to Haliburton. It is a recumbent bicycle, it has a reclining seat and your feet go in the front. You likely have seen it at the market before as I have ridden it there the last three years. Imagine a big backed chair mounted onto a bicycle. The frame is RED and all other details are black. It has small wheels. You would turn your head if you saw someone riding it. It was last seen parked and locked next to the gardens on the main path to the big oven about 6pm, and was gone by 7:30pm when I came out to pack my bags. The bike was locked to itself so they had to pick up the bike and walk with it. There is a bike rack on the back with two bags and a turquoise bell. I have reported this to the police and they have the serial number on record. If you spot this bike please call the police dispatch 416 808 2222, and let me know also. Thank you for keeping your eyes open...Maria.

From Jutta Mason to Maria Solakofski, Jan.1 2007

I called the police shortly after 5 pm yesterday and told them I had just seen a kid on a bike which I believed to be stolen from one of the farmers' market vendors. I also told them that the kid was outside a house with a couple of other kids, one of whom apparently lived at that house. Before I got a chance to say more, the officer said I had to call the person whose bike was stolen, and she'd have to call police and tell them this story, and then they would call me. So I went home and found your phone number on the dufferingrovefriends listserv stolen-bike notice and called you.

Then at about 5.45 I called 416 808-2222 back again and asked them if I should have told them something more that would have got them to respond to me rather than wait. The woman on the phone said, no, this is how such a call is treated.

An officer called me back at the rink around 7.15 I think. He said he had listened to their tape and that I should have said that "I saw a kid riding my friend's stolen bike," and then they might have treated the call differently, but that they had been busy with other calls then anyway. So he told me to tell him again what happened.

I told him that I had seen a kid with this very unusual bike that I knew had been stolen from a market. I also told him that I think it might be the same kid (I think he's about 15) who was arrested at the rink last year for carrying a concealed weapon (knife). see: "a day in court"

I said that rink staff had all sorts of trouble with this kid even before the knife incident. I told the officer that kid's name, and that I had seen (I think it was him) and the bike at ___, in front of a house that appeared to be a house of his friend (two other kids were there). That the friend's mother had come out of the house and had seen me try to block the stolen bike with my bike, but the bike thief had got around me and ridden away on the bike. The mother made no effort to help. That I had told the two friends that they should tell the bike thief to return the bike to the park or I would call the police. That the kid who lived there went inside the house, and the other friend said I was blackmailing him by telling him I'd call the police. That the mother got very upset and said she is a single mother, that she's worried about the company her son (looked to be about 16) is keeping, and that she won't have the police coming around there.

I also told the police that the kid living at this house at ____ would know who the bike thief is and might know where he lives, but that they (the police) would have the bike thief's address on record anyway because he's probably the same guy they arrested last year on the knife charge.

The officer gave me the case number so that I could follow up on what happened (L137456) and said they'd go to that house.

Much later, I think it was after 11 pm., a different officer called me and said they had had this confusing call (from me) with all sorts of extraneous details, about a bike that might have been stolen. He asked me, what exactly was I asking them to do?

I said I was asking them to find the kid who had stolen your bike. I went through the story again. When I started to tell the officer the kid's name and that he had been arrested last year, so they'd have his address in their files, the officer got impatient. I said -- is this the information you consider extraneous? He said yes, but that they'd go over to the address where I saw the kid and the bike. That's the last I heard.

From Maria Solakofski to Jutta Mason, Jan.1 2007

Thanks for acting so quickly. Here's a synopsis of my phone conversation a few minutes ago.

I called the police hotline and told them that somebody had just spotted my stolen bike being ridden and had promptly called me. That she knew the person's name and the address they were at, and that she had just called the police to report all of this. I said to them - "I am calling because my friend who just spotted it was told that I have to call the police for them to call her back!" After reiterating all the details they needed, which had been given before- my address, the report number, what park i'm talking about, etc. they said a constable would be coming to visit me later this evening. "What?! Why are you coming to visit me? You should be getting over to the park and talking to Jutta right now where less than 20 min ago she spotted the bike and questioned the boy who had it before he rode away."

Again, they told me they would call on me and give Jutta a call at the park or at her home this evening, they didn't know when, but some time.

From Jutta Mason to Maria Solakofski, Jan.2 2007

It turns out that two park staff saw the kid from last year's knife incident pedalling off with the park's adult load-carrying trike last week. The staff have been so swamped with the rink crowds here that they didn't even bother to report it. They will now.

But tomorrow the lead rink staff want to call the detective who took the concealed weapon case through court. So she needs to know if there's any more you have to tell us.

Excerpt from the Dufferin Rink "diary" on city rinks web page, Jan.2 2007

In late afternoon, a bunch of kids who were trespassed a few weeks ago came to the rink. They made trouble of various kinds and were also bragging that they knew the guy who stole the market vendor's bike, and that other people around the rink had better watch it or their bikes would go too. Staff called community police but they said they'd be a while. Attempts to keep the main people who said they knew the bike thief, at the rink until the police arrived, resulted in a scuffle and a 9-1-1 call, plus a lot of yelling about people who steal bikes. Big audience of young shinny players, and people getting off at the bus stop. Wrong movie for the braggards, hopefully. Police came but only talked to remaining staff and made notes; trespass guys had left.

From Maria Solakofski to Jutta Mason, Jan.3 2007.

The only thing I have to add to the log is that in between your first call to me on Dec 31 and when they called you later, someone from the police called me at 7:12 to follow up the call I had made to report what you had told me. I think the problem originally was that they thought you were reporting a bike theft, and not that you were reporting to have found a bike already reported stolen.

Anyway, our conversation was very uneventful, with myself being pronouncedly frustrated at their ineffective way of dealing with things. I emphasized that they did not need to send someone to talk to me, that would be a waste of constable time, but that they should send someone to you two hours previously when you reported it. I tried to get to the bottom of where the broken telephone game began and finally got through to this constable Lui, who understood they should have handled it differently and said he would listen to the tapes and discover where it went wrong, why it wasn't handled effectively and promised that he would call you back to speak with you about it after he looked into it. I finished my conversation with him at 7:30pm. I presume that he called you at right after that.

Call from police detective to rink staff, Jan.4 2007

The kid who was seen stealing the park's cargo tricycle was arrested on Jan.1 for robbery, and has now been charged with the bike theft too. He's been released into his mother's supervision, with strict bail conditions.

From Jutta Mason to Maria Solakofski, Jan.17 2007

I went to Fourteen Division tonight and looked at a photo lineup for the guy whom I saw with your bike. It took about one second -- the kid whom I saw with your bike was in one of the lineup photos. It turns out it is indeed the same kid who was charged with possessing a concealed knife last year, as well as with robbery and with stealing the park cargo trike. So now I guess they're going to charge him with that theft too. Afterwards Det.Const. Weeks called me and said he was putting me on as a witness (IF the case comes to trial).

He seemed to think there might be a slight chance still that the kid would admit where the bike is now that he's being charged with that theft too. I'm not very hopeful, but I thought you should know.....

Report from park staff Dan Watson, Jan.24 2007

I saw the kid from the knife incident riding Maria's bike around 2.30 today. I was in a car and I followed him but the kid saw me and managed to get away and hide the bike. Then I came across him walking along the street with a friend. I told him I want the bike and he denied he had been on a bike. In fact, he told me to "stop harrassing" him. Nervy kid.

Police were called and said they would come and talk to me.

From Maria Solakofski to Jutta Mason, Jan.24 2007

What!?? he is crazy. he has been charged with the theft of my bike and he still rides it? did you call constable weeks this afternoon?

From Jutta Mason to Maria Solakofski, Jan.25 2007

The staff called Det.Constable Weeks and he was off. They called the school watch officer. They called dispatch. Their first step was going to be not to go find the kid but to interview Dan Watson. Sigh. But they never came yesterday, even to talk to Dan.

Maria, you can be sure that the rink staff again spent a lot of effort on it and will continue until all avenues are exhausted.

Update, Jan.26

Rink staff Anna Galati left a message with the school watch officer, asking if anyone had gone to follow up with this youth -- is he violating his bail by riding around on the stolen bike? This officer's partner called back and left a message, asking for more details. Phone tag.

Update, Jan.27 2007

Jutta Mason called Det.Constable Weeks -- was told the detective had lef tfor the day and would be back at 6.30 am Jan.28. Left a message on his voice mail, asking if he had been told about this further incident and if the kid had been visited by police.

Update, Jan.28 2007 7.30 a.m.

Jutta Mason called Det.Const. Weeks again. Was told that he would not be in until Jan.29. Left another message with the original "event number" given to Maria Solafoski, in case that would make it clearer. Asked if we could have Det.Const.Weeks' e-mail address to send him this link, so he could use our notes. But the answer was, they would need the direct officer's permission to give out that e-mail address.

Update, Jan.29 2007 11.55 a.m.

Jutta Mason called Det.Const. Weeks and got him. The detective said he would need to speak to the witness (Dan Watson) directly, so he was given the phone number. Bail conditions do indeed not allow this kid to ride around on the stolen bike, and he can be charged again. However, the Court is reluctant to keep the kid in custody because of his young age.

Update, Jan.30 2007

Dab Watson got hold of Det.Const.Weeks and agreed to write out a statement and drop it off at Fourteen Division. Dan did that the next day.

Feb. 11 2007

No word back from the police. On Sunday Jutta Mason asked one of the youth's friends about this youth riding the stolen bike. She said (on a whim) "what would happen if we offered $100 cash to get that bike back, no questions asked, just let it show up in my back yard?"

The friend said said, "$100? He can get $2000 for that bike."

Feb.19 2007, from Dan Watson

I tried Constable Weeks again this morning. He will be on duty tonight at 11:30pm.

Sometime in September the case of the park bike (trike) came up but no one realized that Dan Watson would be in Europe then. (He was not consulted when the court date was set.) So there was no witness and the charge was dismissed.
October 29 2007 from Jutta Mason

Court date. Jutta Mason and Maria Solakofski were both subpoenaed to come. Three Dufferin Grove City Recreation staff came as well. The Crown told us that the basic problem with the case is that the bike has not been recovered, so the case is weak. Since they might not get the judge to take our word that we saw the youth with Maria's bike, the Crown felt it would be better not to bring the case to trial. Instead they would try for diversion. (EJS -- extrajudicial sanctions.)

Diversion requires the youth to "accept responsibility," but we had heard that he always denied he had the bike. In addition, he has been arrested a number of times since the bike theft, always for stealing (and maybe one time for robbery using a piece of pipe as a threat, if we heard right) and so the future doesn't look good for this guy. (As we and many others in the community who have encountered this youth, already know.)

The Crown said that the judge will address this diversion as a first-time event for a youth who has never been charged. That's because diversion is not the same as charging. So nobody is allowed to tell the judge that this is a recurrent problem, and that, for example, the diversion for the knife last year was closely followed by the next offense.

The park staff asked if the diversion conditions could include a mention of community concern, and an offer to have him do his community hours at another park location. The staff said they feel he needs extra attention and supervision, and that Parks and Rec staff could help, since they often supervise community hours. The Crown said that's up to the defense lawyer and Probation, but she would see.

The youth courtrooms are much smaller than the ones at Old City Hall, and people act more relaxed. There may at one time have been a sense that youth court should have less of the formality of law and more of normal human discourse. There was a bit of joking before the judge came in, between the Crown and the youth's lawyer, that this youth has been coming up pretty often. The lawyer looked a bit sheepish, like a father with a mischievous kid. It doesn't seem as funny in the part of town where the youth is active, of course.

We had gone outside into the waiting area to talk to the Crown and Constable Weeks. After a while they left. Eventually the youth, his mother and his lawyer went into the courtroom and even though none of us were told it was time for the case (not the victim, nor the witness, not the three City staff), we followed along. The only thing that was said in the court was that the case was adjourned to January 19. The judge told the youth's mother (as he had told previous mothers) that it was very supportive to see her coming to court with their child, and that he appreciated seeing her there.

Afterward we asked Officer Weeks how many hours of community service the youth got, and he didn't know. He did say that the Crown had called Probation, and Probation had said they are not interested in diverting the youth to do community hours with Parks and Rec staff.

From Maria Solakofski, August 15, 2008

The last communication I had was October 2007, when we went to court and realized they would not lay a charge and the youth was assigned 30 hours of "Extra-Judicial Sanctions" to be fulfilled at St.Stephen's house. We heard he was going to have a check in date in January 14. Honestly -- by the time it was spring and I dreamt of going faster on the rusty old bike I have now, my stolen bike didn't come to mind anymore. It was so long ago - the youth wasn't even assigned community service hours until one year after it happened. So it was quite surprising to hear another eight months later from Detective Constable Weeks. He called me on July 24 to say he had received a letter from Sergio Giacomini, the youth's Barrister. They had decided on a settlement for the case and had a cheque for me, with this note: "Further to my pretrial discussions with the Crown and a subsequent undertaking please find enclosed herein a money order made payable to Maria Solakoski in the amount of $200(Canadian) as full and final restitution in this matter."

Apparently this youth only worked 6 of the 30 hours he was supposed to do. That's why I got the money. I don't know who paid it. Really, "full and final restitution" was not accurate as far as I was concerned, but not to kick a gift horse in the mouth, I gratefully accepted that money order. I will likely go down to 9 Hanna and buy a decent bike from the seized bike dept of the Toronto Police. The irony is amazing!

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