Woman finds her stolen car — but loses it again after police take hours to respond

A bizarre car theft has left a Brampton, Ont., woman angry with Peel Regional Police, after she found her stolen vehicle but then waited hours for help from law enforcement. 

So long, in fact, that the car went missing a second time.

At 4 a.m. on Sunday, Monika Gaddu awoke to find her 2012 Acura TL stolen from her driveway.

“I freaked out,” she said. “I woke [my husband] and said, ‘Where’s my car, where’s my car?'”

When the 31-year-old and her husband moved into the Brampton home last year, Gaddu didn’t realize her nine security cameras weren’t recording.

But her neighbours captured footage of what appears to show at least two people wearing hoodies break into her locked vehicle and drive away.

Police say three other vehicles on Gaddu’s street were broken into that same night. While the thieves took things in those other robberies, they didn’t steal the vehicles outright.

Couple finds stolen car 1 km from home

A Peel Regional Police officer came and took a statement from Gaddu on Sunday.

But when she didn’t get an update the next day, Gaddu and her husband went searching themselves.

“We’re hunting for my car, because I felt like no one else is.”

After a disappointing hour, the couple was driving back when Gaddu spotted what she thought might be her car parked on a side street a kilometre away from their home.

“‘Please, please, please be my car.’ That’s exactly what I said, and I saw the licence plate. My licence plate was still on it.”

The couple took a video of the car as proof and, according to the couple’s call log, contacted police to report what they’d found at 5:55 p.m. Monday.

Gaddu

Monika Gaddu’s vehicle was stolen right from her Brampton driveway, but her security equipment wasn’t hooked up to record at the time. (Chris Glover/CBC)

The couple allege that police told them that because there wasn’t a crime in progress, the pair would have to wait. Police also said that because there might be fingerprints, or other evidence on the vehicle, they should not touch the car, Gaddu said.

“I’m sitting there and [family members] are bringing us drinks and food, my vitamins, like it was so awkward,” she said. “Why am I sitting on the side of the street, when I live a kilometre away and I’m a tax-paying citizen?”

Delayed police response ‘makes no sense’

Gaddu said she and her husband ended up waiting for police for more than six hours.

She said she was nervous the whole time, worried that whoever stole the car might come back to pick it up. The assailant had left gum and a charger inside, Gaddu said.

“I would understand a 45- [or] 60-minute response time, you know, that makes sense, no problem,” she said. “But, come on, six hours? And I’m telling [them] I’ve secured the vehicle and I’m telling [them] his stuff is in the car [and] you could possibly catch this person.”

At midnight, the couple went to the police station. 

“I think if I wasn’t pregnant we may have been able to sit out another five hours, but that’s part of the reason why we left because I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to throw up.'”

Police say they prioritize crimes that are in progress

Peel police dispute their response time, saying the couple first called at 7:51 p.m. That’s about two hours later than what CBC Toronto saw on Gaddu’s call log. 

Police said the longer response time would have been because they prioritize crimes that are in progress, especially ones involving violence.

By the time the couple finished at the police station, they learned from a family member that the car had disappeared again. 

“We were shocked,” Gaddu said. “I felt like I was handing [the stolen vehicle to police] and nobody cared. It’s like you’re screaming and nobody’s listening.”

Car thief ‘has no fear’

A neighbour on the street where Gaddu spotted her car on Monday night told CBC Toronto that the vehicle was back a number of times over the course of the week. 

A police spokesperson said officers are actively investigating the incident, including using security footage the neighbour gave them to track down the suspects.

Still, five days after her car was originally stolen, Gaddu said she feels nervous in her own home.

“Especially, if they were parked a kilometre from my home,” she said. “They have no fear.”

Woman finds her stolen car — but then it gets stolen again after police take hours to respond

A bizarre car theft has left a Brampton woman angry with Peel Regional Police, after she found her stolen vehicle but then waited hours for help from law enforcement. 

So long, in fact, that the car went missing a second time.

At 4 a.m. on Sunday, Monika Gaddu awoke to find her 2012 Acura TL stolen from her driveway.

“I freaked out,” she said. “I woke [my husband] and said, ‘Where’s my car, where’s my car?'”

When the 31-year-old and her husband moved into the Brampton home last year, Gaddu didn’t realize her nine security cameras weren’t recording.

But her neighbours captured footage of what appears to show at least two people wearing hoodies break into her locked vehicle and drive away.

Police say three other vehicles on Gaddu’s street were broken into that same night. While the thieves took things in those other robberies, they didn’t steal the vehicles outright.

Couple finds stolen car a km from home

A Peel Regional Police officer came and took a statement from Gaddu on Sunday.

But when she didn’t get an update the next day, Gaddu and her husband went searching themselves.

“We’re hunting for my car, because I felt like, no one else is,” she recalled of what she was thinking as she scoured her neighbourhood.

After a disappointing hour, the couple was driving back when — a kilometre away from their home — Gaddu spotted what she thought might be her car parked on a side street.

“‘Please, please, please be my car,’ that’s exactly what I said, and I saw the license plate. My license plate was still on it.”

The couple took a video of the car as proof and, according to the couple’s call log, contacted police to report what they’d found at 5:55 p.m. Monday.

2012 Acura TL

Monika Gaddu captured photos and video of her stolen 2012 Acura TL on a side street about a kilometre away from her home. (Monika Gaddu)

The couple allege that police told them that because there wasn’t a crime in progress, the pair would have to wait. Police also said that because there might be fingerprints, or other evidence on the vehicle, they should not touch the car, Gaddu said.

“I’m sitting there and [family members] are bringing us drinks and food, my vitamins, like it was so awkward,” she said. “Why am I sitting on the side of the street, when I live a kilometre away and I’m a tax-paying citizen?”

Delayed police response ‘makes no sense’

Gaddu said she and her husband ended up waiting for police for more than six hours.

She said she was nervous the whole time, worried that whomever stole the car might come back to pick it up. The assailant had left gum and a charger inside, Gaddu said.

“I would understand a 45- [or] 60-minute response time, you know, that makes sense, no problem,” she said. “But, come on, six hours? And I’m telling [them] I’ve secured the vehicle and I’m telling [them] his stuff is in the car [and] you could possibly catch this person.”

At midnight, the couple went to the police station. 

“I think if I wasn’t pregnant we may have been able to sit out another five hours, but that’s part of the reason why we left because I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to throw up.'”

Police say they prioritize crimes that are in progress

Peel police dispute their response time, saying the couple first called at 7:51 p.m. That’s about two hours later than what CBC Toronto saw on Gaddu’s call log. 

Police also said the reason for the longer response time would be because they prioritize crimes that are in progress, especially ones involving violence.

By the time the couple finished at the police station, they learned from a family member that the car had disappeared again. 

“We were shocked,” Gaddu said. “I felt like I was handing [the stolen vehicle to police] and nobody cared. It’s like you’re screaming and nobody’s listening.”

Car thief ‘has no fear’

A neighbour on the street where Gaddu spotted her car on Monday night told CBC Toronto that the vehicle was back a number of times over the course of the week. 

A police spokesperson said officers are actively investigating the incident, including using security footage the neighbour gave them to track down the suspects.

Still, five days after her car was originally stolen, Gaddu said she feels nervous in her own home.

“Especially, if they were parked a kilometre from my home,” she said. “They have no fear.”

Annual G7 meeting coming to Quebec next year

Canada will play host to next year’s meeting of G7 leaders at a remote luxury resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, The Canadian Press has learned.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make the announcement at some point during this year’s G7 meetings, which get underway Friday in Sicily.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office would neither confirm nor deny that Quebec will play host to the 2018 meeting.

Caroline Simard, the Liberal MP for the region, said she obtained “unofficial confirmation,” while a second source told The Canadian Press that the event would take place in the town of La Malbaie, 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

Radio-Canada is reporting that the meeting will take place at the luxurious Manoir Richelieu.

Big economic benefits for hosts

Simard — who represents the riding of Charlevoix–Côte-de-Beaupré — said such an event would bring economic benefits, as well as international media coverage sure to breathe new life into the region’s tourism industry.

“It’s very exceptional for Charlevoix,” she said, noting that it would also demand an intense focus on security.

“Such events mean not only enormous economic spinoffs but also spinoffs for tourism. More than a thousand journalists usually get involved in this type of event, so this would mean an exceptional opportunity to showcase Charlevoix.”

The region is known for being very popular with tourists because of its rolling hills and lush greenery. One particularly popular spot is Tadoussac, where visitors gather to go whale-watching in the St. Lawrence estuary and the Saguenay fjord.

The hotel’s managers refused to confirm any details about the meetings Thursday.

The G7 comprises the seven richest economies in the world, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It would mark the sixth time since 1981’s gathering in the Quebec resort town of Montebello that Canada has hosted the meetings, including in the Muskoka region of Ontario in 2010, Alberta’s Kananaskis Country in 2002 and Halifax in 1995.

Coast Guard dismantles Vancouver’s search and rescue dive team

The Canadian Coast Guard’s only team of emergency rescue divers is being shut down.

The Richmond-based Sea Island emergency crew is the only one of its kind in Canada. The team is responsible for rescues and recoveries of people trapped in submerged boats, vehicles and aircraft.

The divers — who are regularly deployed with the Sea Island base’s hovercraft during dozens of rescue missions each year — will be assigned new jobs within the Coast Guard as part of the organization’s budgeting strategy.

“Funding is not being cut, but rather redirected as the government is reprioritizing resources to enhance search and rescue capacity and response,” said Fisheries and Oceans Canada spokesperson Michelle Imbeau in an emailed statement to CBC News.

The DFO says the diving team “is not part of the core Search and Rescue mandate.”

Cancelled once before

The the 15-member dive team began as a pilot project in 1995, and was dismantled once before, in February 2001, due to concerns of its cost-effectiveness.

But two days after it was cancelled, a man crashed his vehicle into the Fraser River just a short distance from the Sea Island base. He was trapped in his submerged vehicle when the Coast Guard arrived on scene minutes later.

Two former dive team members were onboard the rescue vessel that was dispatched  — but they were not permitted to dive because their equipment had been taken away.

The driver eventually drowned.

At the time, frustrated Coast Guard officer Dave Percy said the man’s life could have been saved if the team was still allowed to dive.

Cap Rouge II

The coast guard eventually reinstated the project months later, after strong public backlash — but new regulations kept divers from entering sunken ships or vehicles.

In August 2002, a fishing vessel named Cap Rouge II capsized near the mouth of the Fraser River. Five people were trapped in the overturned boat when rescue divers arrived shortly after.

It took 90 minutes before divers were allowed to enter the boat — and by then everyone inside had drowned.

The incident prompted a policy change in 2003 that allowed divers to enter submerged vessels, vehicles, and aircraft.

Canadian run down in Times Square rampage remains in critical condition

Elena Avetisian had been planning her trip to New York City for months. It was rare that she brought all three of her daughters from Montreal to the city while visiting family.

But what was meant to be a fun reunion for her cousin’s May wedding turned into a nightmare.    

After sightseeing in Manhattan, Avetisian and her family stopped to have lunch near Times Square. Avetisian decided to step away to get her youngest daughter a stroller.

That’s when a motorist drove his car into the crowds of pedestrians for three blocks in Times Square, killing one and injuring 22 others. Avetisian was one of them.

Officers from the New York Police Department arrested the driver at the scene. Richard Rojas, 26, was charged last week with murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

‘She never came back’

Anna Avetisian said her cousin Elena left the family at lunch, but never returned.

“It was really chaotic in the area,” she said. “But [Elena] never came back.”

The family decided to head to Anna’s home and call every hospital in the area, but they received no answers. They found what happened to Avetisian around 6:30 p.m.

USA PEDESTRIANS STRUCK NYC

The vehicle that struck pedestrians and later crashed is seen on the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue.

“I got a call from a detective, an NYPD detective, and he told me she was at Bellevue trauma centre and she was listed as a trauma victim,” said Anna.

Avetisian is in critical condition, with a broken pelvis and significant head trauma. She remains in a medically induced coma.

While her husband immediately flew to New York City to be by her side, her three children are being cared for by their grandmother in Montreal.

Outpouring of support

Anna said she set up a crowdfunding page to help cover mounting medical and travel costs while Avetisian is in hospital.

“She’ll probably be in New York for the next couple months and this is really going to help,” Anna said.

“Her family is going to need to travel back and forth. She has an 18-year-old daughter who is devastated. [The kids] are going to need to see their mother and this is a huge help.”

They have managed to raise more than $20,000 so far.

Trudeau suggests defence review will invest more in troops than weaponry

When most people envision a defence policy, they think bullets, bombs and battleships, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government appears set to deliver something decidedly different early next month.

Much of the advance publicity for the government’s long-anticipated statement of military priorities is being run through the soft-focus filter of social issues and supporting troops.

It started with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s speech last week at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., where he promised tax-exempt status for troops deployed on overseas operations.

But it was more clearly on display Thursday, as Trudeau took questions at the NATO leaders summit in Brussels, where he is under pressure from allies to spend more on defence.

“I can assure them, and I have been assuring them, that Canada will continue to be there,” Trudeau said, before adding an important caveat: “Decisions around Canadian policy are made in Canada by Canadians.”

That may go without saying, but Trudeau’s answer to allies who have been barking about under-investment was instructive, and it raises important questions about what we will see on June 7 when the defence policy is released.

“There has been over many years under-investments in the Canadian Forces, specifically in support for the men and women who serve. We recognize that,” the prime minister said Thursday.

“That is where our focus is.”

What’s under review

A defence policy review — or white paper, as it used to be called — is ostensibly a statement on national security.

It’s meant to articulate what threats there might be to sovereignty and national interests; it would state how and under what circumstances Canada would choose to shed the blood of its sons and daughters and the blood of others.

A review is meant to lay out how the military should be organized to meet those threats and what the country is prepared to do in return for those serve.

A Drones

Will Canada turn to unmanned drones, like this U.S. Predator, to fulfil future military needs? And what sort of policy will govern them? (Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press)

The last defence review produced by the Liberals, in 1994, made for stark reading at a time, in the aftermath of the Cold War and when federal finances were a mess.

There are myriad emerging questions — geopolitical and ethical — that need addressing in the upcoming policy, positions that the federal government has a responsibility to articulate to Canadians.

Among them:

  • What sort military resources and posture should be devoted to the Pacific, where China is a rising power?
  • Should Canadian cyber-warriors be allowed to conduct offensive operations in an increasingly hostile online world?
  • Does Canada need armed drones, and on whose authority — political or military — would they shoot to kill?

In addition to Trudeau’s comments, there were strong hints in Sajjan’s speech that the plan will lean heavily on diversity, gender and even Indigenous issues.

Defence policy or social policy?

That raises the question as to whether Canada is about to receive a review of defence — or social policy.

“I am a bit curious about framing the whole policy around people,” said Dave Perry, of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, who has written about past defence policy papers, which usually emphasize the nuts and bolts of defence and foreign policy issues.

“I don’t want to prejudge anything, but from the statements that are out there, I am not getting the impression the policy will be focused in that direction.”

The previous Conservative government’s one and only attempt at a white paper — the 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy — was widely derided in the defence community as a shopping list of equipment that quickly turned out to be unaffordable.

The Liberals spun electoral gold in 2015 by casting themselves as nothing like Stephen Harper’s government. They were going to embrace peacekeeping. They were not going to buy the F-35 stealth fighter. They were going respect and embrace veterans.

Political focus

It’s not too far-fetched to imagine the defence policy will be cast through a similar political lens.

Word within National Defence is the Prime Minister’s Office, as late as a few weeks ago, had a go at the final draft of the policy and chose to accentuate the social aspects.

Much of the political debate over defence in this country has for months revolved around the NATO spending benchmark, which the Liberals, like Conservatives before them, have argued is arbitrary and not an accurate reflection of a country’s military contribution.

So, when U.S. President Donald Trump demanded on Thursday that alliance members spend two per cent of their gross domestic product “as the bare minimum” on defence, Trudeau answered, but shifted the focus.

“Over the past 10 years — and more than that — there has been underfunding, for the troops specifically. The men and women of the Canadian Forces. In their care, in their equipment, in the support and training that goes directly to the valorous men and women that live across our country, who choose to serve their country and put tremendous risk on themselves and their families,” he said.

li-troops-00898813

The federal government is still struggling with how to support soldiers and former soldiers who fought in recent campaigns, such as Afghanistan. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

And that came with a light whiff of political messaging.

“It is going to be extremely important moving forward that Canadians see their government has heard the pride that all Canadians feel in supporting our troops and that we demonstrate with concrete actions and investments that our priority is in supporting the extraordinary men and women of the Canadian Forces, who choose to serve,” Trudeau said.

The reflex to conflate defence and veterans policy is not strictly a Liberal thing. Conservatives went a long way on their “support the troops” mantra, something that contributed to their undoing when they didn’t live up to the expectations of what can be a volatile constituency.

The Liberals still face many of the same frustrations from ex-soldiers, despite having promised more than $6 billion in a better suite of veterans programs and services, 

Families of missing, murdered women urge critics to get behind national inquiry

Bernie Williams says she and other indigenous women have already been to hell and back — and now is not the time to give up on a national public inquiry they’ve spent decades fighting for.

Williams, a long-time women’s advocate from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, is among family members of missing and murdered women raising their voices in defence of the commission as it faces a stream of criticism from activists and indigenous leaders.

“I have to believe that there is something that is bigger than all of us out here that we can get through this together,” Williams said in an interview. “I have to believe in my heart, my soul, my being that … we are going to get our justice.”

Williams, who says she lost three sisters and her mother to murder, is confident the five commissioners are well aware of the extent of underlying issues plaguing indigenous communities, including rampant sexual abuse — an issue documented over the last year in an ongoing investigation by The Canadian Press.

She believes the inquiry must proceed very carefully, to leave no room for mistakes.

“I know when we sat at the family advisory circle outside of Toronto, they heard the horrific stories,” she said. “I’ve been abused right from the time I was three years old and I know all too well.”

Sue Martin, who says she lost her 24-year-old daughter to murder in 2002, also supports the inquiry’s work and has provided feedback to commissioners on a voluntary basis with other family members, including Williams.

It is important for families to work with the commission instead of fighting against it, she said.

“I’ve heard from a lot of family members and I tell them to lay their medicines down and keep the faith,” Martin said. “Let these commissioners do their job … and stop the negativity.”

Public criticism

The inquiry is facing a barrage of criticism as it prepares to hold its first public hearings in Whitehorse next week. Testimony from about 30 families will follow traditional ceremony.

Last week, a group of more than 30 advocates and indigenous leaders published an open letter with their concerns, prompting a news conference with chief commissioner Marion Buller and a pledge for improved communication.

Buller said she hopes the public hearings will send a strong signal to the public the inquiry is very much in business.

The Liberal government budgeted $53.8 million for a two-year process but more time and resources will be required, Buller said.

The commission has yet to submit an application to the federal government for such an extension, she added.

“I can’t give you an exact date right now,” Buller said. “Our real push is to get through the hearings in Whitehorse. That’s our first priority.”

A long journey

Martin agrees the two-year timeline is unrealistic, adding the government needs to grant the request when it is formalized.

“I don’t want other families to go through this,” she said. “I don’t want the negativity because this is hard.”

It is critical to give time for a proper investigation of the ongoing tragedy, Williams added, noting she believes families can come together during this very emotional time — when indigenous women and girls are still going missing or being murdered.

She admits reaching this point has involved a difficult journey after the last 30 years.

“It has been one hell of a ride, I’ll tell you,” Williams said.

Man turns himself in to police after dog found buried alive

The Quebec provincial police have arrested a man in his 40s following the death of a dog nicknamed Earthquake that was found buried alive in a field on Tuesday.

The Sûreté du Québec say he turned himself in to a police station in Rouville, in the Montérégie.

The dog succumbed to his injuries while under veterinary care after he was found by a passerby in Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford, 68 kilometres southeast of Montreal. 

Ingrid Asselin of the Sûreté du Québec told CBC the man was arrested today and released a promise to appear. He is expected to be charged with animal cruelty, said Asselin.

Following his discovery, the injured male boxer was taken in by a veterinary clinic in Chambly.

dog buried alive quebec

The dog’s recovery was looking promising Wednesday morning but then took a turn for the worse by mid-afternoon. (Salim Nadim Valji/CBC)

Officials said when the dog was found it appeared it had been strangled and hit with a blunt object before being buried.

The investigation is still ongoing, and Asselin said that further consultation with an expert is required.

‘I am paid in hugs:’ Hairstylist gives haircuts to homeless

A Moncton hairstylist gives free haircuts to homeless and working poor people every Wednesday as part of the Humanity Project.

“I am paid in hugs and I like that,” said Cathy Berry, owner of Kaktus Hairstyling.

Berry sets up shop outdoors, with only a chair and some hairstyling essentials, including towels, a cape, her scissors, a spray bottle, some combs and clippers.

“Thank God for cordless clippers,” she said.

Berry has cut hair for 35 years and has volunteered with the Humanity Project for over a year.

Sign-up sheet

Homeless haircuts

Hairstylist Cathy Berry volunteers each Wednesday with the Humanity Project providing free haircuts for the city’s homeless and working poor. (CBC)

Her haircuts for poor people don’t require booking an appointment. Berry leaves a small notepad on her table, where people can sign up for cuts.

“You can’t help but care for these people,” she said.

She sometimes has to be creative. This week she forgot a hand-held mirror, so she used her car’s side mirror instead.

Each week is different, but on average Berry can cut hair for up to 11 clients in the 2½ hours she volunteers.

She said she’s not aware of any other stylist in the city who offers free haircuts to homeless people in Moncton.

Helping poor people with their hair never crossed Berry’s mind until her daughter volunteered one night for the Humanity Project, passing out food with the charity’s founder, Charles Burrell.

Began with homeless girl’s request

Homeless haircuts

Hairstylist Cathy Berry uses only one table to hold all her hair cutting essentials when she cuts hair for the Humanity project. (CBC)

Her daughter met a girl who was new to the streets and wanted her hair washed and cut. She asked her mother if she’d help, and Berry was more than happy to.

“I did her hair and then that’s how I got involved,” Berry said.

At first, she volunteered as a cook, not as a stylist — until spring rolled around, and people starting taking off their hats.

Berry realized people needed haircuts.

The volunteer work is important to her.

“They tell me that it makes them feel a little bit more dignified,” Berry said. “They look better, they feel better.”

For those who need it

The service has helped her not to take the simple things for granted.

“To me it’s not as important to have a haircut, but for some people it is,” she said.

Berry might be getting some help soon too. A colleague at the salon might begin volunteering with her.

The volunteer work is for the nonprofit group, said Berry, who has been getting phone calls asking about free haircuts.

“That’s not what it’s about, it’s for people who really need it.”

Berry said it doesn’t take a lot to help those in need.

“I only do it for two and half hours a week.That’s not much time that I donate to them, but they are grateful for that small amount.”

Berry also volunteers once a month providing haircuts to Youth Quest, a nonprofit centre for youth who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless.

“You can volunteer in any way, whether it’s sharing a post and someone else sees it, or whether it’s actually giving of your time,” she said.

‘I get paid in hugs’0:27

Since the Humanity Project works outdoors, Berry doesn’t have the proper equipment to provide shampoos. She hopes she can set up a sink and chair for her clients when the nonprofit gets a new home.

For almost a month, the Humanity Project has served meals everyday in a parking lot at the corner of Mountain Road and Church Street, near the former Moncton High School.

The Humanity Project’s previous home was in a building owned by Curl Moncton, which evicted the group at the end of March because it couldn’t come up with the money to buy the building.

The charity has raised almost $148,000 of its $160,000 goal in hopes of purchasing a new home to continue serving Moncton’s homeless.

“We need a place,” Charles Burrell said.

He stressed that serving food out of a parking lot is five times harder on volunteers because they’re using multiple locations to prepare meals.

Burrell said the group feeds about 150 people a day.