March 17, 2010
I thought I would share this article with everyone today because this is something we should all be aware of. With the lack of garages in Toronto a lot of people leave their strollers out and about and we really should be more cautious. Although a bike lock won`t necessarily stop the thief, it`s a good deterrent. And writing down the serial number is an excellent idea--just write it on the instruction manual for your stroller and keep it for your records.
Father retrieves stolen stroller in Craigslist sting
Pricey prams are a hot commodity, as Toronto dad learns just hours after a theft
After his $750 stroller was stolen off his front porch, Lindsay Taylor did what any web-savvy parent would do: he looked for it on Craigslist.
Last Friday night, the red double Phil & Ted’s stroller that Taylor and his partner, Natasha, use for their two sons was stolen from outside their home, just northwest of Pape and Danforth.
On Saturday, within minutes of pulling up the online classifieds site, Taylor had found a listing for a stroller that sounded like his. It had been posted at 3 a.m. that morning, two hours after Natasha heard something outside their window.
“He wouldn’t give his name,” Taylor said of the seller, whom he contacted through email, then spoke with on the telephone. “His phone number was blocked. I tried to be vague with my questions, but when I asked what colour the stroller was, he said, ‘Why do you want to know?’” Though suspicious, the seller did mention that he had another similar stroller, if Taylor was interested.
On Sunday, Taylor and a friend went to meet the seller in a parking lot at 404 and Steeles. “We’re both very non-violent people,” said Taylor. “If anything escalated, we’d have backed down and left.”
A car pulled up. The man in the driver’s seat popped the trunk, but stayed in the car while his female companion got out. Taylor went over, and the woman started telling him about the stroller’s many features.
“Within three seconds I knew it was exactly mine,” said Taylor. “It had chalk marks my son had made. It was incredibly obvious.”
Taylor’s friend began snapping photos. Then, as Taylor began yelling at the couple, his friend got out of the car and grabbed the kidnapped carriage.
“He started backtracking, saying he just bought the stroller that morning off the Internet,” said Taylor. “I made it clear he was not leaving with the stroller.”
When Taylor filed a police report, officers at 54 Division traced the licence plate and told Taylor the seller’s car was a rental.
There aren’t solid numbers on stroller theft in Toronto, but pram pillaging is enough of a problem that an alert was issued last October in 11 Division, which encompasses High Park and the Junction. After a rash of thefts and two arrests, police suggested that strollers be kept inside or locked up.
Recently, there have been multiple thefts in the east end: a Beach mom told the Star about having her lime green Phil & Ted’s stolen last Thursday. On Tuesday, a new Craigslist posting warned that a Peg-Pérego Uno, which sells for about $500, had gone missing from a porch in the Warden-Danforth area Sunday afternoon.
“[Craigslist] was the first thing that came into our minds,” said MaryKate Garrity, the mom who posted Tuesday’s ad. She had left the stroller out around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday so that its wheels could dry off after a walk . By 2 p.m. it was gone. “Please be wary of anyone selling this style of stroller,” she posted online.
Last January, Taylor’s neighbour, Craig Gatten, had his $900 Bugaboo stolen off his front porch. His wife left the stroller out after carrying in some heavy bags around 6 p.m. Two hours later, it had vanished.
Except for that one fateful evening, the family used a chain and combination lock to secure the stroller outside. Wary parents often use padlocks or bicycle U-locks. Those who are determined to maintain the cute factor fork out $25 for animal-faced BuggyGuards.
Like Taylor and Garrity, Gatten trawled Craigslist for his carriage. “I did the same thing as Lindsay,” said Gatten. “Went to Craigslist, met up with the guy. But it wasn’t our wheels.” Craigslist did not respond to a request for comment.
Const. Brandon Karstoff, who works with the community response unit in 54 Division, where Taylor and Gatten live, warns the public against confronting suspected thieves themselves. “It could be a carload of people ready to do a robbery,” Karstoff said.
He suggested that “the right thing to do” is to print out the listing and contact police if it looks like a stolen item is being sold online. He says 54 Division helped recover a stolen bicycle listed on Kijiji last fall, by taking over the victim’s email account and setting up a fake buy, which resulted in an arrest.
Taylor said the reason he didn’t contact police is that he hadn’t written down the stroller’s serial number. Garrity doesn’t have hers, either.
“That’s going to be tough,” said Karstoff. “How are we going to prove it’s their stroller?”