The former executive director of a Salvation Army facility was charged Monday, following the discovery of a massive cache of toys police said were stolen from the charity and bound for a booming black market.
Three tractor-trailers worth of toys were found over the weekend in a cold cellar warehouse in Brampton, Ont., and in a facility in Toronto. It's hoped the toys can be returned to the Salvation Army in time for the charity to distribute them this holiday season, police said Monday.
The toys and other gifts and products, including two bicycles donated by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, were either taken from the Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto or diverted before they got to the facility and were to be sold for profit, police say.
"This is obviously something that - as an investigator with 23 years of experience - I haven't seen anything to this magnitude before," said Det.-Sgt. James Gotell. "It's a terrible shame when people donate their good, hard-earned money toward buying toys for the needy in the holiday times and these articles are now being redirected for profit and that's what we're alleging. It's a very sorry case."
David Rennie, 51, of Toronto, has been charged with 17 counts of possession of property obtained by crime, 10 counts of theft over $5,000, seven counts of theft under $5,000, criminal breach of trust, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and several counts relating to trafficking in stolen goods.
"We're alleging the thefts took place under David Rennie's control and without the permission of the Salvation Army," said Det. Robert Strain.
The charity fired Rennie after discovering the massive amount of missing toys. Rennie is to appear in court on Jan. 4.
Portions of shipments from high-end donors would either be taken from the Salvation Army's warehouse or were siphoned off before they ever got there, Strain alleged. The case is shedding light on what police call a booming black market for stolen goods.
Though the scale of the alleged toy theft is unusual, police said various items are frequently stolen by the truckload.
"I've been involved in a lot of investigations over the years and it's amazing what in fact can be bought and sold in the city of Toronto very quickly," said Gotell.