Three local individuals are facing numerous charges after thefts and frauds at hardware and big box stores from Toronto to Ottawa.
According to a release from Kingston Police, dated Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, they began a joint multijurisdictional investigation with multiple other police agencies regarding frauds and thefts that were being perpetrated by the male and female accused parties beginning in November 2020.
A thorough and extensive investigation revealed that the accused parties were carrying out an elaborate scheme on numerous occasions at multiple store locations throughout Ontario, according to the release. “The scheme involved purchasing expensive products and then proceeding to leave the store only to return shortly after, receipt in hand, and selecting the same merchandise that they had just purchased. They would then attend the cashier area of the store and pay for a separate inexpensive product and show the receipt from the previous purchase claiming that the newly selected merchandise in their cart had already been purchased. Shortly after one of the accused parties would return to the store and the fraudulently acquired merchandise would be returned for a full refund,” Constable Ash Gutheinz said in the release.
Kingston Police said these frauds and thefts continued in cities across Ontario between May 2020 and October 2020 on at least 57 different occasions.
On December 31, 2020 police attended a residence located in Kingston’s west end and arrested the accused male as well as his partner, the accused female. Both individuals were transported to police headquarters where they were later released on conditions with a future court date.
On this same date police also attended a residence in Kingston’s north end and arrested a second involved accused female who had been implicated during the investigation. This second accused female was also found to be breaching court imposed conditions stemming from a previous arrest, according to police. She was subsequently transported to police headquarters where she was held to attend a future bail hearing.
Derek Bennett, a 51-year-old local man, faces 26 charges including two counts of theft over $5000, two counts of fraud over $5000, possession of proceeds of property over $5000, ten counts of theft under $5000 and eleven counts of fraud under $5000.
Sherri Allen, a 45-year-old local female, faces 26 charges including two counts of theft over $5000, two counts of fraud over $5000, possession of proceeds of property over $5000, ten counts of theft under $5000 and eleven counts of fraud under $5000.
Victoria Wales, a 51-year-old local female, faces 20 charges including two counts of theft over $5000, two counts of fraud over $5000, possession of proceeds of property over $5000, seven counts of theft under $5000, six counts of fraud under $5000 and two counts of failing to comply with release order.
Kingston Police say the investigation is continuing and further charges may be pending. The total financial loss due to this theft and fraud scheme is estimated to be approximately $100,000 with one store alone suffering a loss of approximately $35,000.