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Pawn shop discovery leads police to home and warehouse full of stolen goods – Winnipeg Free Press

Pawn shop discovery leads police to home and warehouse full of stolen goods – Winnipeg Free Press
Pawn shop discovery leads police to home and warehouse full of stolen goods – Winnipeg Free Press

When an engraved watch was found at a pawn shop, it opened ‘Pandora’s box’, leading to the recovery of more than half a million dollars in stolen property, guns and drugs by Winnipeg police officers.

“Sometimes what starts as a simple property crime report can grow into a much more complex investigation,” Inspector Jennifer McKinnon of the Winnipeg Police Service’s Major Crimes Unit said at a news conference Tuesday.

In June, police detectives were alerted to an engraved watch that was believed to be stolen. The watch led investigators to a suspect with a lengthy criminal record.

On June 26, searches were conducted at a home on 800 William Avenue and a warehouse in the city. More than $540,000 in stolen property was seized.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS Winnipeg Police Chief Jennifer McKinnon holds a news conference Tuesday after an investigation led to the seizure of an estimated $544,000 in stolen property.

John Paul Schooley, 53, has been charged with multiple weapons, drug and theft offenses. He remains in custody.

Among the items seized were more than 90 bicycles, valued at over $90,000, 1,207 cell phones, valued at $241,000, guns and airsoft guns, electronics, tools and musical instruments.

According to McKinnon, methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine were also seized from both properties, with a combined street value of more than $60,000.

Investigators believe items were stolen from homes and businesses and sold for drugs and money

“It’s not surprising that drugs are present… it could be as simple as stealing an item or tool and exchanging it for drugs, which (the suspect) had on him,” McKinnon said.

According to McKinnon, the suspect was a thorn in the side of the police because of his colorful criminal record.

Court records show that in 2018, Schooley was sentenced to 28 days in jail for theft under $5,000. In 2020, he was placed on unsupervised probation after failing to comply with the terms of a release order.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS A stolen property investigation resulted in a major police seizure on June 26. Among the items seized were more than 90 bicycles, valued at more than $90,000, 1,207 cell phones valued at $241,000, long guns and airsoft guns, electronics, tools and musical instruments.

The documents show Schooley faces 29 unrelated charges, including identity fraud, possession and trafficking of property obtained by crime, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, possession of stolen property under $5,000 and multiple weapons offenses.

According to McKinnon, other suspects are being investigated in connection with the large-scale theft operation.

The raid is “proof that the anti-shoplifting initiative launched in December 2023 is working,” the researcher said.

“These types of investigations don’t work unless we work together,” McKinnon said. “What makes it challenging is that it’s a multifaceted nature of shoplifting, it intersects with multiple societal issues … there’s no one-size-fits-all solution or approach.”

Property crime fell nearly seven per cent in Winnipeg last year but rose five per cent over the five-year average, according to the Winnipeg Police Service’s annual statistics report released in June.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS The June 26 raid is “proof that the anti-shoplifting initiative launched in December 2023 is working,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Inspector Jennifer McKinnon.

McKinnon stressed the need to label and document valuable items so they can be returned if stolen and later recovered.

“Without adequate information such as serial numbers or engravings, it becomes challenging for us to prove ownership and return property,” McKinnon said.

She suggested that people take photos of their belongings, document valuables, engrave jewelry, and register their bicycles.

“These simple steps can significantly increase the chances of stolen goods being recovered and offenders being held accountable,” she said.

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Nicole Buffie
Multimedia producer

Nicole Buffie is a multimedia producer who reports for the Free press city ​​​​desk. Nicole was born and raised in Winnipeg and graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2020. She worked as a reporter across Manitoba before joining the Free press newsroom in 2023. Read more about Nicole.

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