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 Original post by: QCTI VICOMMUNITY     
[2009/06/04 12:00 AM] Shoplifting showdown

Shoplifting showdown

Chinatown grocer David Chen was standing by the plants outside his shop when an angry looking man walked briskly toward him yesterday afternoon.

"You beat up my dad," the man said heatedly. He was wearing a red hooded sweater and appeared to be in his 20s. "You tied him up and beat the hell out of him."

Chen's wife picked up her phone and threatened to dial 911.

"Your daddy hit me first," Chen replied, gesturing to his left side. "I have bruises on my arm."

The last few days have been a whirlwind, the 35-year-old grocer said. On Saturday morning, he said he spotted a man on a bike stealing a box of money tree plants, worth about $60. It wasn't the first time the man had stolen something from the store, Chen said.

So when he saw the alleged thief later that day, he confronted him. The man dropped his bike and ran south on Grange Place from Dundas St. W. Chen chased after him with two other employees. When they caught him, they tied him up by his hands and feet, put him in a delivery truck and contacted police.

But when the officers arrived at the Lucky Moose Food Mart, the whole group was arrested and charged. The three grocers were charged with assault and kidnapping; the man on the bike was charged with theft.

Chen was kept in a holding cell at 52 Division overnight. He was released on $7,500 bail. The man on the bike was released on $1,000 bail.

The incident has Chinatown shopkeepers and customers in an uproar. They say the area is plagued with petty theft, but that police are too busy to properly patrol the area. Chen was doing what has to be done, they say.

Carol Yun, who runs a knick-knack and clothing shop down the street from the Lucky Moose, said shoplifting is a daily occurrence.

"They come by on bikes and take things set up outside. Sometimes I chase them, or they keep coming back," she said in Cantonese through a translator. "(In China) this would not have happened. You have to tie them up, otherwise they'll get away before the police get there."

Last summer, the local Business Improvement Area hired two private security guards to patrol Spadina Ave., from Queen St. W. to College St. They plan to do the same this summer, said chairman Stephen Chan.

"When we call police, sometimes they have higher priorities and it can sometimes take two or three hours," said Chan, who also is an owner of the Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant. "That's why in Chinatown we have the private security to patrol the streets (in) July, August and September."

Supt. Hugh Ferguson, who oversees 52 Division, said there are eight levels of priority for calls. Dealing with calls is like triage in an emergency room.

"It's not about who gets there first. It's based on need. If there's an assault taking place and the suspect is there, we'll (attend) to that first," he said. "Incidents of where it takes hours would be the exception, not the rule."

But according to Chen, response time is always lengthy. What was he supposed to do?

This is what he said outside the grocery store to the young man yesterday afternoon, around 2 p.m.

"What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? He took the ..."

But the man cut him off, loudly demanding to know who cares if his dad stole something. By then a group of customers had congregated around Chen.

"Man, this has been vexing me for two days," the young man said and stalked off.

If the man is, in fact, the accused shoplifter's son, there could be charges, said Chen's lawyer, Lenard Kotylo.

"The (accused) is not supposed to communicate directly or indirectly with Mr. Chen," Kotylo said.

"It's extremely rare for ...(apprehension of a shoplifter) to result in a kidnapping charge. That's an amazing charge to lay in the circumstances," the lawyer said.

Police arrived at the grocery store about an hour and a half after yesterday's altercation. Detectives are now investigating.

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The VRAC Victims’ Rights Action Committee is organized as a result of the recent incident at the Lucky Moose Food Mart where the owner, Mr. David Chen, was charged and detained for over 24 hour in Police custody and jailed after he chased down a suspected shoplifter who attempted to hold the suspect while waiting for the police to arrive and make their arrest. The resulting charges against Mr. Chen and his employees are serious, heavy handed and totally inappropriate. Any citizen would consider “assault”. “forcible confinement”, “kidnapping" and “possession of concealed weapon" to be offences that should be reserved for hard core dangerous criminals. The objectives of our Victims’ Rights Action Committee are: 1/ Present the facts on the Lucky Moose Food Mart incident, 2/ Gather public support for Mr. David Chen and his staff through on line petition, 3/ Defend citizens’ right to safeguard ones’ personal properties, 4/ Clarify what is citizens’ arrest, 5/ Request the federal Minister of Justice to review section 494 under Canadian Criminal Code, and make all necessary amendments to it in order to vigorously protect Canadians’ rights to defend our personal properties, 6/ Urge the Crown Prosecutor to review the incident and drop all charges against Mr. Chen and his employees. VRAC - Victims' Rights Action Committee VRAC is set out to support those individuals who had been treated unfairly, needed advice, and support. VICTIM RIGHT, VICTIM RIGHTS AND VICTIMS RIGHTS are all essential and must be protected by the Government of all levels. A Member of VICommunity - Virtual Integrated Community, Powered by QCTI - QC Technologies Inc.