Victoria police say a tech-saavy tourist led them to a crime ring where the thieves were hoarding thousands of dollars in stolen good and drugs in Esquimalt.
On Monday night, a 30-year-old woman from Lacombe, Alta., had her iPad and other items stolen during a break and enter in the 4300-block of Saanich Road, where she was staying with a friend. She reported the incident to Saanich police, who began an investigation.
The woman activated the global positioning system software in her iPad to track its location. That led her and a friend to an apartment building at 611 Admirals Road. She called Victoria police, and they discovered the GPS was so accurate that it pointed them to a suite belonging to known property criminals.
Officers arrested four people and obtained a search warrant. They found a cache of stolen goods inside, including cardboard boxes filled with credit cards, large plastic tubs of laptops, guitars and three litres of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), commonly known as the date-rape drug.
"The amount of identity theft and credit-card fraud they could do with those credit cards is scary," police spokesman Const. Mike Russell said.
The stolen goods are estimated to be worth thousands of dollars, taken from break-and-enters and thefts throughout Greater Victoria.
"The suite was a virtual department store of stolen property," said Sgt. Barrie Cockle in a statememt. "The work by this tourist and our officers will put a signficant dent in property crimes throughout the CRD."
The two men, one from Esquimalt and one with no fixed address, and two women, one from Esquimalt and one from Saanich, are facing charges of possession of stolen property. Russell said more charges such as possession of drugs could be laid.
All four were held in custody on other outstanding charges.
Investigators are now trying to link the stolen goods to oustanding files across the region. Once the items are catalogued, police will try to match them with reported stolen goods. Items they can't match to an owner will be posted on the department's Facebook site, but Russell said this could take at least several weeks.
Russell said the bust at the apartment is the sixth time Victoria police have raided residences in that neighbourhood since March.
In May, Victoria police and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team arrested three people and raided two apartment suites at 669 Constance Ave., just off Admirals Road. They seized heroin, meth, crack cocaine and $15,000 in cash. Another drug operation netted nine people after police raided three suites at 636 Admirals Rd. on March 6 and April 18.
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