TORONTO, Ont. - In the spirit of Chief Wiggum and the Keystone Cops, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) recently managed to botch a chance to nab a gang of cargo thieves in the act.Danny Richardson, ...
TORONTO, Ont. – In the spirit of Chief Wiggum and the Keystone Cops, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) recently managed to botch a chance to nab a gang of cargo thieves in the act.
Danny Richardson, owner of Royal E and I Transportation, was enjoying a Saturday at the races when his cellular phone rang.
It was a motorist heading along Hwy. 401 through Toronto. He was following an erratic trucker and decided to complain. Richardson knew something was up right away, all his drivers had the weekend off – and besides, the motorist said the trailer had On The Double (OTD) painted on the side.
Not wasting any time he kept the man, who was still following the rig in question, on the phone and grabbed a friend’s cell, dialed 911 and tried to report a theft in progress.
What happened next has left him scratching his head wondering if all those donut jokes are true.
“It was so frustrating,” says the disillusioned fleet owner.
The 911 dispatcher not only refused to help, they chastised Richardson for allowing the motorist to endanger himself by following the stolen truck.
“They told me that since the tractor was initially stolen from the Brighton area, I needed to file a report with that detachment,” he relays. “I was like, ‘Jesus Christ!'”
So the motorist and Richardson continued to talk until the truck moved onto Hwy. 403, and the opportunity was lost.
“We could have recovered the load,” he blasts. “They could have put a tail on the guy and set up a sting.”
The following night the unit was recovered when another Royal driver spotted the tractor and the OTD trailer at a truck stop in Port Hope. A quick odometer check suggests the thieves probably pulled the load to Oakville, where they offloaded the juice before returning east to dump the rig.
OPP Superintendent Peter Burns calls the incident regrettable, but adds his experience tells him this was certainly an exception.
“It was what I describe as an intolerable situation from our standpoint,” he says. “The com-centre operator … should have dispatched the closest available vehicle immediately.”
The file on the incident has since gone to Burns’ director of operations and is now under investigation. Discipline could range from a counseling session or an entry on a personnel file, if it was a civilian employee who took the call, to as high as a fine under the Police Services Act if an officer was the one who refused dispatch.
Burns expects the investigation will likely run for a month or two, but it doesn’t sound like it will resolve much, mind you, as the OPP has been unable to track down the records of Richardson’s call reporting the incident. “We can’t find any trace of it whatsoever on our computer records or logger tapes,” confesses Burns.
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