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5 crimes you (probably) didn't know about in Vancouver

From turtle thefts to hypocritical corruption
Vancouver has a history full of odd, unusual, and sometimes funny incidents.

Vancouver, like any large city, has had its share of crime over the years.

And while gangland shootings and terrible murders often get the headlines, unusual, funny, or odd crimes happen as well (a warning, not all of these crimes are funny).

Some of the more dramatic crimes can stick in the public consciousness for years or even decades, odd crimes often fade shortly after reading, so some will find a couple of these incidents familiar. 

1. The case of the stolen turtle

Turtle theft might sound like something Encyclopedia Brown might tackle, but local police were called in 2021 to track down "Zoomer" the box turtle.

Zoomer was a resident of Vancouver's Science World (and maybe still is?). For a short time, though, he was in the hands of a Sechelt man named William Richardson.

Richardson had been visiting Science World with his three kids when the family decided it wasn't the place for Zoomer, so he went out to the car, got some bolt cutters, and got Zoomer.

They took the turtle to a nearby lake (it should be noted that box turtles like Zoomer don't live in local lakes) to see if he'd head in. He didn't.

Richardson given six months probation and told to write an apology to Science World.

2. The Vancouver Flamingo Killer

This isn't a creative name, it's a very literal one given to Jason Laberge. He and a group of other young men broke into the Vancouver Zoo in Stanley Park in 1992.

While others cheered,  Laberge killed six Chilean flamingos.

3. Why the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra went on hiatus for a decade

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) had a shaky start and faced financial issues in the early 1920s.

And then it went quiet for a decade as the VSO's organizer, Henry Green, "skipped town with all the money," according to the city.

It didn't return until 1930.

4. That time a drunk clown drove into a police car

We'll start by saying there were no injuries in this one.

One night in 2009 a police officer was in his car in West Vancouver on patrol. He spotted someone driving toward him, so he threw on his lights. You know, the bright blue-and-red ones.

That didn't help though, as the man drove his car into the police car at an estimated 25 km/h. Everyone was ok.

When the officer went to arrest the driver, he found a 29-year-old man in a clown costume.

5. The Findlay scandal

In 1917 prohibition came to B.C.; the banning of alcohol was a popular ballot issue during elections at the time.

The man put in charge of prohibition in B.C. was Walter Findlay, who had been a vocal opponent of alcohol consumption.

By mid-1918 he was a national figure in the prohibition movement, organizing a conference in Ottawa to make prohibition laws more efficient (it's notable that on the same newspaper page there's a story of man being fined $400 — that's $7,200 in 2023 —for having a bottle of whisky).

You can probably guess where this is going.

A warrant for his arrest was issued for importing alcohol from another province. He was arrested Dec. 12, 1918 at the Blaine border crossing, hours after being dismissed from his role.

Findlay wasn't caught with the alcohol; instead, it was a train carload of whisky that arrived in Gastown...along with four other carloads. A sixth was even turned back. His wasn't a small operation and another charge he faced was for 74 cases of whisky.

- with files from Jeremy Hainsworth

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