This seems a bit excessive to catch three teenagers.
Raise your hand if you can say your high school crimes ever attracted the attention of a police chopper.
Three teenagers from Vaughan can now claim, probably with only a slight degree of pride, that their capers, committed under the cover of darkness, prompted York Region Police to call in both a helicopter and a K9 unit. They may, once they hit legal age, recall the tale while reliving their glory days, hoisting pints at the watering holes in Vaughan, Ont. They will perhaps drift into myth, their names forgotten but the tale of the force needed to bring them down preserved in folk songs and campfire tales.
They will, one presumes, be less likely to provide specifics, since very few people will ever be impressed by the fact that they were allegedly trying to steal candy from Canada’s Wonderland.
And while the rest of it—the chopper and the K9 unit—is true, it is less because they were pegged as master criminals, and more because they happened to attempt the wrong heist at the wrong time.
According to YRP Constable Andy Pattenden, this past Saturday at around 10:30 p.m., the security staff at Canada’s Wonderland spotted three individuals in dark clothing and masks on surveillance cameras breaking into a building in the park. They then called York Regional Police, who sent their Air2 patrol helicopter (which was on scheduled patrol in the area at the time), along with a K9 unit, into the park to apprehend the suspects. In a video of the arrest, released on Tuesday by York Regional Police, three suspects are seen huddled under a tree while the K9 unit closes in for what was obviously a fairly routine arrest.
(One imagines that folk re-tellings of the story will not reference the video, since it does little for anybody’s street cred.)
While the three suspects were released without being charged, the event raises questions about the use of police resources, and the message sent by releasing the video.
When asked if using a police helicopter is an appropriate response to kids stealing candy from an amusement park, Pattenden replied: “Yeah sure, why not? The call didn’t come into us as three kids stealing candy, right? It came in as a break and enter in progress.”
True, but what about releasing the video publicly? Does that not send the message that this is the sort of force that police are willing to use for three high school kids with a fixing for some sugar?
“It is an important message that, while this turned out to only be kids stealing candy, they were trespassing on private property,” said Pattenden. “We put it out there as a reminder to kids that if you’re thinking of doing something like this, think twice about it, because the response can be serious and significant.
These are valid points, but YRP seem to be basking in an extremely trivial win by releasing the video. Especially when one recalls that there are drastically more serious crimes—two shooting deaths in March and a triple shooting earlier this month—that YRP have yet to close. What’s more, the gloating barely sends the message that they want to send (that those who break the law will be caught and punished); it simply says that these kids were in the wrong place at the wrong time and, above all, planned out a pretty pathetic heist.
That the YRP think this sends a powerful law and order message, while violent criminals remain at large in the community, says more than the video ever will.