Posts Tagged ‘Victoria Police’

Changing the way police do business (Part I)

Written by Harold McNeill on July 19th, 2019. Posted in Police Notebook, Editorials, Policing Reforms

I don’t think anything demonstrates the solidarity of police officers more than when attending the funeral of a comrade killed in the line of duty. This photo, taken in Moncton in 2014, captures the essence as officers from across Canada and around the world bid farewell to Constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, David Joseph Ross, 32, and Douglas James Larche, 40, killed during a shooting spree.

The shields of Central Saanich, Oak Bay, RCMP, Saanich, and Victoria represent the ideals of comrades in arms.

Introduction to Series

Part II, Comparing differing police cultures
Part III, The past as a guide to the future
Part IV The integration of police services

Link to CBC Podcast: Policing in the CRD


This series of posts will explore some of the past, present, and possible future directions of policing within the Capital Region. It will include discussions about differing police cultures, how they clash and how they work together; and, of course, thoughts about amalgamation, a topic frequently thrust into the public eye.

The Victoria/Esquimalt joint force will be singled out for additional scrutiny, as over the past sixteen years the debate about that merger is also kept in the public eye. While the administrators of the joint force often use the challenges they face as a bargaining chip, it is also used by others to advance an ideological purpose as in a recent letter penned by the President of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. (1)

Although the post will deal with sensitive areas of police work and police personality, I steadfastly maintain police officers in the CRD and across Canada, are among the very best in the world.  Corruption is not a part of our police culture and while it was present in the last century, it was rooted out and systems put in place to ensure it did not return.

When Canadian police officers swear their Oath of Office, they take that oath to heart.  What is sometimes lacking is solid, independent oversight of the sort that provides an unbiased assessment of police actions when those actions are called into question be they external or internal.

Also, in press articles, when references are made to ‘dysfunction’ or ‘a broken system’ by the press or others, they are overstating their case.  While the challenges to be addressed are difficult, those challenges do not stop our police officers from maintaining an even-handed approach in enforcing the law and helping citizens within our largely peaceful communities.

Part 1:   Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation


Conspiracy to Rob the BC Ferry Terminal at Swartz Bay

Written by Harold McNeill on May 16th, 2015. Posted in Police Notebook, Editorials

Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal 1980

Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal 1983 (Web Source)

On the May Day long weekend in 1983, a dozen police officers waited patiently with weapons at ready. The gang that commanded their attention had amassed a small arsenal of handguns, shotguns, rifles and even considered mounting a machine gun in the back of a stolen van. The gang also collected a box of dynamite and purchased blasting caps, radio transmitters, scanners, balaclavas and sundry other equipment to pull off a major heist. The gang leader was a convicted bank robber from the Vancouver Lower Mainland (White Rock area) who made no bones about killing if that should become necessary.

The gang had the planning down to the minute, the goal, a small fortune in cash that flowed through the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal every long weekend. The only thing that stood between the gang and that goal was a small group of police officers and civilians who had quietly, deliberately, and secretly inserted themselves into the gang planning process.

Link here to Part I of this Series: Oversight of Police and Security

Link here to Part II of the series: Conspiracy to Bomb the BC Legislature

Part III Conspiracy to Rob the BC Ferry Terminal at Swartz Bay

An earlier post about BC Ferries posted on McNeill Life Stories: Thank you BC Ferries

1. Introduction

In Part II, a Conspiracy to Bomb the British Columbia Legislature, the crime was meticulously orchestrated over a five month period by 250 RCMP General and Security Service police officers. While many were only peripherally involved, two undercover officers maintained close personal ties with the two suspects.

During this period, the suspects were coached, cajoled, encouraged, threatened, and supported along a path that led them to the BC Provincial Legislature grounds in the summer of 2013. In culminating the crime, pressure cooker bombs where strategically placed on the BC Legislature grounds the night before the  Canada Day celebrations of July 2013 were to be held.

As the crime was planned and monitored by the police, the bombs were inert, so there was no danger to the public. However, with considerable fanfare and live television following, the suspects were arrested in an ERT take down the next day at a Fraser Valley motel. Read the full story as linked above.

In this post, an Armed Robbery was carried out as part of a Conspiracy to Rob of the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay. The commission and planning of these robberies were carried out by a half dozen suspects, while an equal number of police officers (Note 3) took turns following them, listening to their conversations, as well as collecting evidence as it became available. During the five-week investigation, the suspects had no idea police were listening in as well as watching their every move. It was a classic conspiracy investigation.

The investigation took place in early 1983 while I was working as a Detective with the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit (CLEU), a joint forces operation that included five RCMP and six Municipal/City members. There was also a civilian support team of ten, including one pilot who worked with the surveillance teams. The unit was under the overall control of a Joint Management Team (JMT) made up of senior police officers and government officials from the Greater Victoria area.

The team was assigned complex multijurisdictional cases that often involved drug trafficking but periodically spun off to other criminal cases as in the present case. CLEU members also provided specialized support to local police agencies as needed. One example was an Oak Bay PD, in a case involving the theft of art. (Surveillance in an Art Theft). The cases regularly involved mobile and stationary surveillance as well as telephone and other listening device intercepts. As with most CLEU operations, there were never enough bodies to go around, so some intercepted call lines were only monitored on an “as needed” basis if things became hot on one or two other files.

So it was on this particular morning when, having a few minutes to spare, I grabbed a reel of EHUR recordings from a less active line. This was done periodically to catch up on the calls since the last logged entry. As usual with residential telephone lines, many calls were idle chitchat between family, friends and business associates. It only took a few days of listening to become familiar with the habits of the regular users, including their humorous attempts at cloaking some conversations in code.  Following is a simplistic example.

“Hey  Donaldson, you wanna buy some…”
“Carl you fuck, don’t use my last name and talk in code, OK?”
“Okay, okay, Jimmm…, don’t get pissed?. Hey, you wanna buy some “pizza”? Got some good shit.”
“Carl, we gotta be careful, cops might be listening.”
“Nah, cops are too stupid. Anyway, how many pizzas do you want, I’m making a pickup today?”
“OK, the usual, meet you later at the pond.”

Every group developed their own codes and almost all worried about their phones being bugged, but that never stopped any from talking as if their line was secure and as if their secret codes would confuse the police. A few might revert to a payphone, but when that happened, it was usually the same phone so the wiretap was simply extended to that line and intercepted only when they were on the line. That usually meant we had to cover off the call if possible.  In the above example, Jim might have said at the beginning: “Give me thirty minutes, I’ll use the other phone.”

2. An investigative break in the Armed Robbery of the Brentwood Bay Liquor Store

On this particular day while listening to the early morning calls of a few days earlier, nothing much popped up until around noon (call time) when an unknown male (UM) made a series of calls to various stores looking to purchase a starter pistol.  After a half dozen attempts including calls to Jeune Brothers, Ray’s Sporting Goods, Island Collateral, International Knives, etc., the man finally found pistols at Robinson’s Sporting Goods. They stocked several kinds, some of which could be purchased for as little as $20.00, so the UM told the clerk he would drop by later.

A similar pattern followed the next day calls, but this time they were made by an unknown female (UF) trying to purchase balaclavas. After contacting half dozen sporting good stores and no balaclavas to be found, the woman decided to settle for normal toques.

On the third day the line yielded pay-dirt when the UF of the previous day called from a pay booth to the target residence and spoke to the UM of the first day:

UM:      “Hello” (this was followed by two faint shots from what appeared to be a small calibre handgun or starter pistol).
UF:       “Police, oh God, you’ve gotta’ help us, somebody with a gun. I’m at the Waddling Dog Inn.  Please send somebody.”  (this was followed by normal conversation)
UF:      “I just worked – we haven’t worked out what we’re uh how things are going.  How’s it goin’?  Can you hear that?”
UM:      “Yeah, I didn’t un there’s not un yeah.”
UF:       “Can you hear anything?”
UM:      “Not much, no.”
UF:       “OK, let me try again, just a minute.” (Again, two faint shots)
UF “We haven’t worked out our dialogue see we’re just practicing.”
UM:      “Oh, that was pretty good.

The conversation extended a further ten minutes as the female was clearly self-conscious and uncertain as to whether her plea for help sounded convincing.  The male attempted to reassure her but was more worried about whether the shots sounded realistic. The conversation suggested the two had a personal relationship. The call was traced to a phone booth in the parking lot at the Waddling Dog Inn at the intersection of Highway 17 (Pat Bay Highway) and Mount Newton Cross Road.

This call was the first break in an armed robbery that occurred a few days earlier at the Brentwood Bay Liquor Store in which two men wearing balaclavas and one threatening with a handgun accosted the store manager and stole the bank deposit bag containing nearly $7000.  As the robbery was going down, the above female phoned the Central Saanich Police (CSP)office and made a report similar to her earlier practice call of a shooting at the Waddling Dog Inn.

Following is a partial transcript from the police tape of the robbery and shooting call:

Male Caller (MC):         “This is the Liquor Store at Brentwood.  I got held up by a man with a gun in a red van Licence number 12-34-AB.”
Dispatcher (Disp):       “O.K.”
MC:      “Towards you on Wallace Drive”
Disp:    “O.K.”
MC:      “The right-hand door was torn off.”
Disp:    “Right-hand door torn off it, O.K. just stay on the line, was this an armed    robbery?”
MC:      “Yes, it was”
Disp:    “O.K., what type of weapon.”
MC:      “It was a revolver.”
Disp:    “A revolver, and how many men.”
MC:      “Two.”
Disp:    (APB on Radio)  “Liquor store in Brentwood Bay was just robbed, armed robbery,  BCL 12-34-AB, a red van and its heading down Wallace Drive towards us. (to MC)”Just stay on the line, sir:”
MC:      “O.K.”
Disp:    (on the radio)  “120 Central Saanich, contains two males, 120 Central Saanich.” (on phone)  “Just stay on the line, sir.”
120:     “120”
Disp:    “We’ve just had a robbery at the Liquor Store (phone rings) vehicle involved is a red van #12-34-Alpha Bravo (rings) the van is proceeding north on Wallace Drive towards our office (rings), two males with a handgun (rings) revolver involved.
Disp (aside):  “Stay on the line sir”
Disp: (answers another phone). “Central Saanich Police”   (the sound of two faint shots can be heard)

Female Caller (FC): “Police, my God can you send somebody down to the Waddling Dog Hotel, there’s a man with a gun and somebody has been shot already – OH MY GOD.”

Disp:    “O.K. Mam you said there’s .. stand by Mam hello  (phone rings)  Just stay on the line sir.”
MC:      “Yes, I’m right here.”
Disp:    “Mam you said there’s, stand by, Mam hello.” (Caller apparently hung up) (rings) “Just stay on the line sir”
MC:      “Yes, I’m right here.”
Disp:    “122, 120 Central Saanich I’ve just had another report that there is a man with a gun at the Waddling Dog and someone has been shot, apparently the caller, a female has hung up, I have no further information on that nor a description.
120:     “Central Saanich 120, I’m 100 yards off the Waddling Dog, I have Constable Henn, off duty, with me.
Disp:    “10-4 description of the van was a red van BCL 12-34-Alpha Bravo,,, two males with a handgun, stand by O.K
120:     “10-4, get some backup from Sidney and Saanich.”
Disp:    “Standby sir, I ‘m just going to keep you on hold OK, but stay on the line.”
122      “122 Central Saanich”
Disp:    “122:
122:     “Do you still have the liquor store on hold?”
Disp:    “10-4”
122:     “Don’t let anyone in till I get there and lock the doors.”
Disp:    “10-4 (then to male caller): O.K. police will be their shortly, secure all the doors. Hello”

Communication by radio and phone continued for several minutes as other units from Sidney RCMP and Saanich PD set up to assist.  When CSP 122 arrived at the liquor store, the store confirmed the arrival with the dispatcher, then hung up.  CSP 120 at the Waddling could find no evidence of anyone having been shot.

(Note: the manner in which the CSP Dispatcher, on her own in the CSP office, handled this situation, was a classic example of keeping one’s cool under pressure.)

Back at the Liquor store witness reports indicated the robbers were observed sitting in the red van in the parking lot. Things went sideways from the beginning as just when the robbery was about to go down, a woman drove into the parking lot and stopped to let the liquor store manager walk by in front of her car. Right after the manager passed, a passenger in a red Van threw open the sliding door, jumped out with his face covered with a balaclava, shoved a handgun in the managers face and ordered the manager to hand over the deposit bag. Instead, the startled manager dropped the bag. The robber scooped it up, jumped back in the van, but just as he was part way in and pulling the door closed, his partner hit the gas. This forced the sliding door to slam back open and nearly pulled the masked gunman from the vehicle.

As the witness vehicle partially blocked the exit route, the get-a-way driver cut short to the right and in doing so caught a parked car that ripped the sliding door off the van. It was left lying in the parking lot and it was pure luck the gunman was not squished between the two vehicles. Had that happened the case would have long since been solved and that would have been the end of this story.

As it was, an hour later, a CSP unit found the get-a-way van abandoned in a commercial parking lot off Keating Cross Road. It was soon determined the van was stolen earlier that morning from the long-term parking area at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Also stolen were two sets of BC licence plates from other vehicles in the same lot.

3. The Follow-up Begins

In a meeting with CSP investigators, it was clear there was no physical evidence, other than the phone calls made between the mystery male and female, connecting specific person(s) to the crime. It seemed likely those at our target residence were complicit in the robbery, but a lot more work was needed to pin things down to specific individuals.

While we carried out periodic regular surveillance of the target residence, another drug trafficking case was demanding considerable attention, so the best we could do was rotate between the two cases as priorities allowed. CSP provided additional assistance whenever needed.

Given both monitored residences were in rural, somewhat isolated areas, onsite surveillance was nearly impossible. The best we could do at the Saanich residence was station a car at each end of the through road, then conduct periodic spot checks as we drove-by. In the East Sooke case, the house was on an isolated dead-end road so one car could maintain regular checks when required.  In both cases the houses had a single driveway and, as the parking areas were visible from the road, it was fairly easy to capture licence numbers of visitors.

In Saanich, it only took only a couple of days to come up with the tentative identity of the UM as being one John Dillinger who, it turned out, was a dangerous ex-con in his late-thirties. He was driving a vehicle registered to his name at a residence in White Rock, B.C. The man had a long criminal record with extensive entries for armed robbery and other serious crimes. FAX photos tentatively confirmed his identity and fingerprints were on the way.

It took a bit longer to identify the woman, but she was finally tracked to West Vancouver where she lived in an upscale high-rise apartment not far from the Lions Gate Bridge. She did not have a criminal record and nothing popped up on any of the Lower Mainland Police blotters. Given what little we could find about her background, how she came to be involved in an armed robbery was a mystery. As she was in mid-thirties, apparently single and a looker, it seemed likely she was drawn into a relationship with Dillinger, then some time later became an active partner in the robbery.

As for the regulars at the target residence, they were a mix of mid-level drug traffickers we hoped would lead us to bigger things in a Vancouver Island/BC based drug trafficking ring. As that had not yet happened, our new priority became the robbery.

4. Garbage Out – Evidence In.

In discussion with CSP, it was decided that in addition to upping surveillance on the targets we would also begin picking up the garbage at the residence. On checking with Saanich Public Works we learned the next pickup was two days hence so luck was with us as there had not been a pickup since the robbery.

man-looking-deep-garbage-can-23759205The possibility of garbage yielding solid evidence was a tact I periodically used when working in the Oak Bay Police Detective Office. As there was no prohibition in law, it was as easy as picking up that which a suspect trashed. It was amazing what criminal types were willing to throw away without a second thought and in one instance, at an upscale home in north Oak Bay, it only took a couple of pick-ups to find items relating to a fraud case that was currently underway at the Law Courts. The items pointed directly to the guilt of the accused, a man I knew well from previous investigations.

After sharing the retrieved information with the prosecutor in the fraud case and his relaying it to defence, it was not long before the defence lawyer came knocking at my door. The testy guy as much as accused me of having broken into the man’s home and taking the evidence. Because the defence lawyer was an irritating, arrogant little shit I declined to divulge the source of the information. When he left he was so convinced I came by the material illegally, the next day a subpoena arrived at the police office and early the following week I was on the stand in a BC Supreme Court trial.

It was a very short appearance, as only one question was asked and when answered the defence lawyer did not even bother with a follow-up. The answer given was enough to blow a hole in his defence as the Judge had no qualms about admitting the evidence. The lawyer looked at his client, shook his head, and closed his binder.  A finding of guilt followed not long after.

The accused, a colourful con man with his cheery personality and fun-loving ways, was known as William (Bill) Thistle, and, as he has long since passed away, I used his real name. He was a favourite with the various fraud sections throughout the lower island and at one time he rented a giant billboard on the Pat Bay Hwy near Mount Newton Cross Road advertising Charter Cruising on his luxury yacht. At the time he was living in a 12’ X 12’ motel room less than 200 feet from the sign. Such were the ups and downs of the con game. (For more background, reference Note 1)

5. Garbage Day 1

Meanwhile, back on the robbery case, after joining up with the Saanich refuse collector, who just happened to be the collector on our home route in the Interurban area of West Saanich, we commenced pickups along the street just before the target residence. At the residence, I had clean garbage bags ready and after the pick-up, we travelled a couple of blocks where we meet a CSP unit, then headed back to the CSP office with our treasures. In the company of CSP Constable Jack Hill, we were gifted with a virtual trove of evidence relating to the robbery.

1. Brentwood Liquor Store Receipt: The night before the robbery, the group purchased a bottle of Dom Perignon.  Dillinger used a $100 bill to make the purchase (and it was his good luck to get the $100 bill back the next day in the robbery money).

2. Brentwood Liquor Store Receipt date receipted a few hours after the robbery. It appeared one of the gang members attended the liquor store and purchased a cart full of liquor presumably using some of the money taken in the robbery.

3. Torn up Personal Cheque in the name of John Dillinger drawn on a bank in White Rock (cheque was only partially complete with no payee)

4. Brown Paper Bag with a pencil-drawn adiagram on the back showing the Brentwood Liquor Store Mall parking lot and get-a-way route.

5. One small White Canvas Bag containing several pieces of white, red and blue electrical wires; one spool of white 12 gauge wire on which a puller had been used; two smaller spools of 10 gauge wire; one piece of paper with a wiring diagram; one broken alligator clip (brass coloured); one silver alligator clip (intact); three small screws; one plastic container from Cal Van Auto that likely held a number of alligator clips.

Note: Cst. Hill packaged the above items and along with the wiring and alligator clips used to hotwire the stolen red van sent them to the crime lab for comparison purposes.  The items were received back a few weeks later confirming sufficient match points in the cuts, colour, gage, etc., to confirm they were at one time connected.

6. Four pieces of blue wool (cut out in a circular shape about 5 cm across).  Given the earlier phone calls regarding toques, it seemed evident these circular cuts of cloth were from the toques. (Crime Lab Report in footer)

7. Tags from one pair of “Paris” gloves purchased at Woodward’s (likely the pair worn during the robbery).

8. Two small diagrams (not immediately evident as to what was being described).

9. Several more Brentwood Liquor Store receipts. It appeared a lot of the money stolen in the robbery was being delivered back to the store in small bundles.

10. Prairie Inn Coaster with several names written on the back.  None of the names were familiar to the investigators.

The garbage confirmed a least three of the regulars at the residence were aware of or helped to plan and carry out the robbery. It seemed likely Dillinger was the gunman, as we knew from voice ID he had made the calls looking for a starter pistol. Also, he best fit the description of the robber, had a record for armed robbery and seemed to be the leader in the group.  The problem, we had no firm evidence to connect him to the crime.

The woman, of course, was solidly connected by the phone calls made as she looked to find a balaclava, then the two diversionary calls (the practice one and the one to the CSP office) at the time of the robbery. While it was all good evidence, it was still far to thin on which to build a solid case.  If we arrested the group at this moment we might, at best, end up with a few minor Criminal Code charges depending on what was found in the residence. A decision was made to extend the investigation until more evidence was collected. Two days later the next jackpot.

6. Hot money to purchase an airline ticket

Detective Doug Bond and I followed Dillinger and a rounder from up-Island, Scooby Dube, to the Victoria Airport as earlier phone conversations indicated those living at the house were fed up with the Dube hanging around. Being such a “pain in the ass”, they were willing to pay his airfare back to Port Hardy just to get rid of him (see note in the footer). At the airport, Dube went to the Air B.C. counter and following several minutes of discussion, purchased a ticket (later found to be to Port Hardy via Vancouver).  Doug and I observed Dube tender several twenties for the fare.

A complication arose when somehow Dube dropped his copy of the airline ticket in Dillinger’s car when the two went out for a toke. Shortly after Dillinger arrived home, Dube phoned and a pissed off Dillinger went back to the airport with the ticket. After Dillnger drove away and Dube caught his flight, Doug and I went to the Air B.C. counter and inquired about the transaction.

It was our good luck the ticket was sold after the regular cash count by the day shift so the payment, made with $20 bills, was clipped to the airline copy of the ticket and passed to the afternoon shift to add into their count. The cash was still in the drawer Twenty Dollar Billwith the audit copy of the ticket attached.

Both the ticket and cash were seized and on one $20 bill we noted the number “34” printed on each end. It was interesting to note that while Dube gave his own name for the ticket, he signed it (it had to be signed in those days) with the name Willy Wonka. Why? We had no idea, perhaps to many tokes over his short life.

The next day Bond and I took the bills to the Brentwood Liquor Store and the manager immediately identified the bill with the printed “34’s” as having been one of thirty-four $20 bills included with the stolen money. He recognized one set of numbers as having been written by himself and the other by one of the clerks. To see how meticulous the cash count was and why the manager recognized the printing on the bill check out Footnote #1.

Photo (file).  On this bill, the one “34” (top) is clearly visible, the other, at the bottom, was faint in the copy, but readily visible on the original. The count slip to the right is from the Air B.C. count (17 twenties). The count slip from the liquor store would show “34” twenties as processed and part of the money taken in the robbery.

The store copy of cash count receipt was seized for identification purposes. While this was excellent evidence, the fact Dube was not in the city at the time of the robbery excluded him and even a charge of possession of stolen property would be pretty thin. We surmised someone, likely Dillinger, but possibly Wonka, had given Dube the money to purchase the ticket.

As evidence was still flowing to bolster a solid robbery case, it was decided to continue monitoring the phones and maintain periodic surveillance in hopes of connecting the rest of the dots. However, a day later, an outcall from the residence made by an associate of the gang, one Sean Penn, to a number in Vancouver inquiring about buying several .38 Special revolvers, changed everything.

The next day Penn phoned Wonka and asked if they still needed the radio to which Wonka replied “yes”. Dillinger then came on the line and asked Penn about the guns and Penn stated he would pick them up in Vancouver in the next day or two. The cost was $500 for all five. That same day Wonka phoned K-Mart looking to buy a scanner telling the store clerk it was for his (Wonka’s) father. Clearly, things were changing fast. With the intercept orders ending, RCMP Constable John Roung and I went to work applying for wiretap extensions with Roung working on the Wonka order and I, the Penn line. Writing that order would be my first since joining the squad a few months earlier.

As the original file now morphed into new territory our OIC, Inspector Hempstead, brought the matter before the JMT and an extension was approved the same day. The great thing about the JMT organizational structure was the ability to move quickly up and down the chain of command even in a matter of hours if needed.

7. The Ferry Robbery Conspiracy Begins

While the wiretaps provided good information, surveillance filled the blanks and those blanks proved mighty interesting. The day after the money pick-up at the airport, Constables Roung and Gilbert followed as Dillinger and Wonka drove to the Swartz Bay Ferry terminal. After parking, the suspects spent an hour wandering about making notes and Gang at Ferrysketches. The same day Det. Bond and I observed Penn and Doe checking out the side roads around the terminal.

Photo:  Taken from OP using telephoto lens.

Over the next few days we observed as various members of the gang drove to the Ferry Terminal where they spent several hours watching the movement of the tollbooth operators and other employees. Of particular interest to the group was the arrival and departure of the Brinks Armored Car.  As there was always a lot of foot traffic around the terminal area, the movement of the suspects never drew any attention.

However, to provide a better vantage point for police, Det. Bond and I checked out properties on the west side of the terminal. After vetting the owner of one property, we made arrangements to set up an observation post (OP) in a wooded section that provided excellent coverage of the terminal parking lot and administrative building area. We were able to set up a tripod and over several days grabbed dozens of photos of the gang as they went their planning sessions.

Our best guess was a plan involving the robbery of a Brinks car as it made the pick-up from the administrative building. The gang now had the scheduled times for the armoured car and how the cash moved from the booths to the administration building. From this point, the watchword was caution, for, as yet, we had no idea when the robbery might take place.

8. Garbage Day 2

After making the bi-monthly pick-up and heading back to the CSP office this search revealed the following items:

1. An ‘accounting sheet’ with the names Mona. John and Willy. This was clearly our three main suspects in the robberyCash Split. The total count was $6300 and, as well, included a list of expenses; Port Hardy (cost of getting rid of the pothead); School fees for Mary Jane and $600 for a scanner. This brought the total within the range of that taken in the robbery.

2. A torn page of lined foolscap with handwritten notes (photo in footer):

    • 454 divided by 32 equals 14½ ozs, 1 pound equals 20,000
    • coveralls, gloves, walkie-talkies
    • check about caps at 4251 Blenkinsop, 477-6964  (note: this related to call #23 made by Mary Jane Doe to Web and Trace (a local blasting company) in which she inquired about blasting caps. The man at Web and Trace told her she could buy them and powder – all she needed was a driver’s licence.  Mary Jane wanted a box of 50 caps and also inquired as to how long they would take to go off.)
    • notes on balance sheet – scanner and lighter adapter  $ on antenna.

3. A half dozen receipts from the Brentwood Bay Liquor Store (the store was quickly getting their money back). Between the Liquor Store, the Brentwood Bay Inn (comment below) and a few other local businesses, the gang was keeping the money local – no off-shore bank accounts for these folks.

4. Several other items of unknown interest at this time.

During this same period there were several calls related to purchase of dynamite and the use of blasting caps; about having purchased and tried the walkie-talkies and comments that a range of one mile was needed. Members of the group also spoke of having access of a pound of gold – melted down – worth $20,000.

9. Surveillance Humour at the Brentwood Inn

Over the years, surveillance always provided humour of one sort or another, either among the police members or those we were surveillingLynn Davis in Campbell River.  One day when a phone call indicated the gang was having a special dinner at the Brentwood Inn, we decided to cover off the meal to see if anything interesting popped up.

At the time Lynn Davis (later to become Lynn McNeill) was employed at the Oak Bay Police Office as Personal Secretary to the Chief Constable.  Lynn came to Oak Bay from the Colwood RCMP where she worked for a short period as a Civilian Dispatcher after having joined the force as a Civilian Member in Campbell River.

Lynn was also a member of the RCMP Reserve (photo left, c1980) and along with her longtime friend, Cathy Gordon (photo below right, who would later to become the wife of Colwood RCMP member Constable Gordie Dash), the two young, single women became accustomed to police life while serving in the area of Campbell River and Comox.

Before joining Oak Bay (and meeting her future husband), Lynn spent several months touring the Interior of the Province as a Special Assistance to the IBCCS (Interior British Columbia Communications Team) and at one point helicoptered to the top of Lynn Davis and Cathy DashMount Robson while installing part of a new communication system for the force. Lynn’s primary job was attending dozens of Interior RCMP Detachments and instructing members on use of the new radio system.

After coming to Oak Bay, Lynn occasionally accompanied me on surveillance when doing close quarter checks (e.g. restaurant walk-throughs, beer parlours, lounges, etc.). It was always less conspicuous than when a man or woman wandered in alone.

Photo (c1980): Lynn and Cathy as they get ready to escort a young man to his going away party just before heading to recruit training in Regina.

Back at the Brentwood Inn Lynn and I were using the CLEU surveillance van, but the only good OP by the Inn was marked “Residents Only”, so we took our chances. As the van had a periscope in the back with a camera mount we were able to get several photos of the gang as they arrived. A little later Lynn and I entered the lounge area, had a beer and checked out the group. It appeared the dinner was only for the regulars and likely a planning session. Nothing of particular interest popped up inside so we returned to the van.

As we awaited the gang’s departure, someone banged on the passenger door. We hadn’t noticed any of our suspects come out, so I got out and spoke to a man who identified himself as a local resident. He complained about my parking in a ‘Residents Only’ zone. Not wanting to identify myself as a police officer, yet wanting to keep the spot for another hour, I quietly pulled the guy aside, told him I was on a date with this new girl and that we had just finished dinner, had a bottle of wine “and you know…” (wink, wink, nod, nod).  The guy was quick on the uptake, winked back and said something to the effect of ‘take your time buddy’.

After climbing back in I told Lynn it was just a neighbour and it was OK if we stayed, but never told her what I had said to make it OK. After a few minutes elapsed I stretched out, put my feet against the side bench telling her I had a cramp in my leg. As I pushed back and forth the van started to gently rock. I did this a couple of more times over the next hour and she thought I was just being weird (as usual). When the gang left, we grabbed a few more photos and then on the way home I told her how I had got the neighbour off our backs.  She punched me, called me a not nice name and we still chuckle about that little interlude in our pre-married life.

Back on the case, it was around that time Mona Lisa dropped off our radar. We all had the feeling she was in well over her pretty little head, but not sure whether she just had falling out with Dillinger or whether something more sinister happened. We spent a day in Vancouver checking around her apartment, but nothing was found, her car was not located and the phone line went silent. We knew Dillinger was a dangerous man, but there was nothing in any conversation or observation to suggest he might have been responsible for her disappearance. He had made a couple of calls to her residence, but when no one answered, he stopped calling. To begin poking deeper into her activities would clearly jeopardize the investigation, so the decision was made to continue as planned.

10. The Royal Bank in Brentwood, a Possible Target

While the gang possibly had access to some gold, it appeared they were still struggling with money problems. Perhaps they donated a little too much back to the liquor store and the rest may have gone up in smoke at those late night parties. But, for our crew, things took a possible turn for the worse when Dillinger, Wonka and another were observed wanderingP1220741 around the Royal Bank in Brentwood. That he was an experienced bank robber having knocked several outlying banks in the lower mainland, the RBC would be his cup of tea.

Photo:  Taken from a surveillance van.

As we were reasonably certain the group was in possession of several handguns, two or three rifles and probably a stash of dynamite and other equipment, the threat of a bank robbery to grab a little extra cash was real and immediate.

The RCMP members in our section were getting significant blowback from a senior RCMP Inspector at HQ who was monitoring the progress on the Ferry Conspiracy and, although he was not attached to the JMT, he wanted the gang taken down immediately. If that happened we would likely be left with a rather shaky robbery case. To his credit, Inspector Hemstead stood his ground and along with other members of the JMT, cooler heads prevailed and the surveillance was allowed to continue. But, just in case it all blew up, we doubled up on the RBC security during banking hours.

Det. Bond and myself were assigned to an inner perimeter stakeout in the banks parking lot. Using a borrowed camper truck with shotguns at ready, our instructions were clear – if any member of gang happened to get through the outer perimeter and showed up in the parking lot, they were to be immediately arrested at gunpoint.

It was a tense time and while the gang was well covered with several CLEU and CSP units, it was hard to predict how things might evolve given Dillinger’s dangerous offender history. A running gun battle was the last thing we needed.  I rather think our Inspector (Einer Hempstead) was more than a tad nervous as he and his partner had at one time been in a running gun battle with a couple of bank robbers in a chase that extended from downtown Victoria, out the Peninsula to North Saanich and then by boat into the waters of Brentwood Bay before the robbers were apprehended.  I think Inspector Hempstead was shot in that little escapade. Perhaps someone who knows this story firsthand could help me make any needed corrections.

Following the second day of full coverage, phone calls and other movements suggested the bank was off the list as it appeared Dillinger had come up with several thousand in seed money from an associate in Vancouver. A greatly relieved crew pulled back and the Ferry Terminal and Brinks Armored Car were again given top billing.

11. Decision Time after Garbage Day 3.

As the days slipped by, it seemed increasingly likely heist would go down on the May long weekend, although there was no evidence this was a sure thing. It seemed likely as it was a time when cash flow at the terminal was usually at a maximum and in excess of $200,000 could flow through the system as cash was king and credit cards were still a second or third choice for many customers.

P1220628As we still had no idea where the gang might have stored their weapons and dynamite, this was of great concern. Given the diversionary tactic used for the liquor store robbery, it seemed certain the dynamite would be used to create a sizeable distraction. However, we had no idea where or where that might be, and with the number of weapons now believed to be in possession of the gang, there was the potential of a small war breaking out if things went sideways.

Just before the week-end the garbage pick-up was only marginally productive, with a few liquor store receipts, on one of which the Brinks money pick-up times was noted and another suggesting two more rifles, a Murants model 2215B and a Springfield 45/70 were now in possession of the gang (note photo left).

With the amount of weaponry increasing by the week, the decision was made to pull the pin and arrest the subjects if they began to move toward the ferry terminal over the long weekend. We would take a chance that enough additional incriminating material would be found in the residence or that, as in this type of case, one or two of the lesser gang members was willing to roll over and provide evidence against others gang members.

Well, you guessed it.  The gang remained absolutely still through Saturday, Sunday and Monday. No one moved and no intercepted calls indicated they were about to move. Our entire crew was at ready, overtime was racking up by the hour and management was becoming increasingly anxious. The Inspector from RCMP HQ, who had now gained a seat with us, was becoming increasingly agitated.  When the last ferry departed on Monday afternoon and all was quiet, the decision was made to do the takedown the next morning, May 24, 1983.

At a final meeting in the CSP office that Tuesday, all members were briefed and assignments made. Because it was likely weapons and explosives were being held at the residence, it was decided to make the arrests, if possible when the main gang members were split up and driving in rural areas. Det. Bond, Roung, Gilbert and myself were assigned to take down Dillinger and others who might be in his company. Immediately after his arrest, others would be picked off as quickly as possible.

Early that afternoon a phone call indicated Dillinger, Wonka and Doe were heading out from the residence.  Close in surveillance picked up on Dillinger’s vehicle which was now sporting a set of stolen licence plates. As the suspects drove through a rural area of south Central Saanich, two CSP marked units and two CLEU unmarked units closed in and made the stop.

The three occupants surrendered without incident. No weapons were found and all were taken to the Central Saanich Police for processing and then lodged in Victoria Police cells pending a first court appearance the following day. Others were similarly taken into custody without incident. It was a rather anticlimactic end to a case that had run about five weeks from beginning to end, but there were still dozens of loose ends to cover off.

Oh, and a humorous event took place during the takedown, for which I was to pay the price in ribbing. When we initially left the Central Saanich office, I was assigned to travel with two uniforms (Constable Jack Hill and one other) in the primary marked unit that would do the pullover. I jumped in the back (the prisoner’s seat) with my shotgun and felt quite secure as there were no door handles or window winders on the inside and, as well, a Plexiglas screen between the front and back that completed the seal. During the hectic moments when the suspects were being taken down at gunpoint, I remained locked in the prisoner’s seat and was not released until the prisoners were handcuffed.

12. Search of the Residence

After the search warrant was issued Bond, Roung, Gilbert and a few others along with myself, attended the residence and the following items seized:

1. Four Portable radios (reference calls 21, 22 and 25)Map of North Saanich

2. Map of North Peninsula with yellow circles at (right and footer):

    • B.C. Ferry Terminal
    • Two circles on Lands End Road (surveillance previously showed gang members checking out various side roads and waterfront access)
    • Ocean Sciences Complex
    • Commerce Mall with RBC Branch and Trafalgar Mall
    • Target residence

3. Envelope with return address of Employment and Immigration date stamped one week after the Liquor Store Robbery.

4. Handwritten on front:

    • Target residence
    • Underwater blasting
    • Boats
    • Length of #Notes re dynamite
    • Distance for wire
    • Why doesn’t fuse work without wire?
    • Should wire always be connected before detonation
    • Timer voltage required
    • Is 60% more stable?
    • How long can it be stored?
    • What is the white residue?

(My Note: Over time sticks of dynamite will “weep” or “sweat” nitroglycerin. Crystals will form on the outside of the sticks causing them to be even more shock, friction or temperature sensitive. This creates a very dangerous situation. While the risk of an explosion without the use of a blasting cap is minimal for fresh dynamite, old dynamite is dangerous (Wikipedia)).

    • Is one cap enough?
    • How close to store caps
    • How much current for spool
    • Remote Control

5. Diagram of Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal including passenger area, washrooms, offices, radio frequencies for terminal and golf carts.

6. Small sheet of paper listing

    • Cost of boxes 17½ X 11 7/8 X 6 ½  ($175.00)
    • Municipal Maps
    • Gloves, coveralls, stainless wire
    • Phone numbers of various people

7.  Sheet of paper listing various items

    • Police Codes (e.g. 10-29, 10-7, 10-6, etc.)
    • “Plant Hindsight Score V (???) 10 spd Wed P.M
    • Small wagon drops off to pick up boat
    • Van picks up boat driver and to sting (?)
    • A.B. detonates after Armie goes by (10 min)
    • A.B. leaves after Van goes by
    • Boat to Agua
    • Fisherman fish until 5:00 pm
    • Go Home
    • Try scan from small wagon
    • Try walk and talk from P. Bay to surveillance
    • Try to detonate from Pat Bay to surveillance

8. Ten pages of radio frequencies and 10 codes

9. 12 gauge shotgun and case

10. Small notepad

    • caps, boat and racks, pump
    • gloves (2), hat, coveralls
    • bike and accessories
    • Dirt Bike
    • Helmet
    • Mun. Maps
    • Harness
    • Dent ________

11. Envelope with diagram on front

    • diagram appears to be around the intersection of Raven Croft
    • (note: Raven Croft is one spot circled on larger map)    code 10-72 B&E  Loc 2090

12. Various radio equipment

    • Realistic scanner (20 channel 2020)
    • AM-FM scanner, Model 20-112, Serial 2-048691 with car adaptor
    • 2 audio source research speakers (back) with three clips on back and silicone on the back  (later identified by the owner as stolen items)

13. One 30-06 Alpine Supreme, bolt action, rifle with 4X banner scope by Bushnell in a leather slingCrime Lab Report

14. One .308 Winchester Remington – Mohawk 600 S/N 6948200

15. One .22 calibre Cooey Model 60 repeater

16. Blue Balaclava (see crime lab report, photo right)

17. Two toques (one orange/green, one orange/brown)

18. One black leather side holster

19. One set of handcuffs

Although we thoroughly searched the residence, surrounding the property and other locations, we could not find a trace of the five handguns or the dynamite. All the accused lawyered up so no further information was forthcoming from their end.

But, you might ask, what happened to the elusive Ms. Mona Lisa.  Shortly after the arrests, a telephone call suggested she was back at her apartment in West Vancouver.  The West Van PD was alerted, picked her up and lodged her in their cells pending pick-up and transfer back to Victoria.

The following charges were immediately laid against John Dillinger, Willie Wonka and Mona Lisa regarding the Liquor Store Robbery:

  1. Steal money while armed with an offensive weapon;
  2. Using a firearm while committing an indictable offence
  3. Theft of a motor vehicle and contents
  4. Possession of stolen property over the value of $200.

Some time later, a single charge against John Dillinger, Willy Wonka and Mary Jane Doe consisted of conspiring together and with other persons unknown to commit an indictable offence of robbery, to wit, to rob a sum of money the property of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation Terminal at Swartz Bay near Sidney, County of Victoria, Province of British Columbia, contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada.

13. Preparing the Case

While the investigation only took five weeks from the time of the first intercepted call connecting the group to the liquor store robbery, it generated a pile of material that needed to be catalogued and prepared for court.Spread Sheet by Cst. Roung

As wiretap conversations made up a significant part of the evidence, verbatim transcriptions had to be prepared, catalogued and placed in binders for distribution to the accused persons, defence lawyers, prosecutors and others. It also took the better part of two weeks to work through various documents and property lists to organize the connections between those items and relevant phone calls, exhibits and surveillance notes of various officers and civilian witnesses.  While I prepared the initial full typewritten list of items expected to be used, Constable Roung added to that list and made an excellent chronological flow chart for use by the prosecutors when presenting their respective cases.

Photo:  The spreadsheet made by Cst. Roung, continued for 35 pages. The sheet was painstakingly made at a time when computers were more of a novelty than an essential piece of equipment as in today’s police office.

While we could connect the main gang members to the robbery and ferry conspiracy, there were still holes in the case that would best be filled by turning one of the accused into a crown witness. Several names were discussed and tossed aside as not having a comprehensive knowledge of the leader of the gang, John Dillinger.

The weak link appeared to be Mona Lisa, whose actions in the robbery was limited to the phone calls she made looking for balaclavas and then placing the diversionary call to the Central Saanich Police. Those two items and her association with the Dillinger were sufficient to convict her as being a party to the offence. That provided the leverage we needed to possibly turn her into a crown witness. The fact that we had later learned she had skipped town and laid low in California while the ferry robbery plans were being developed, made for an easy decision. As far as we could tell, prior to the liquor store robbery she was squeaky clean, was a divorced mother with two young children and, as sometimes happened, had been drawn into an affair and later a crime by a cunning and dangerous man.

After some preliminary discussions between ourselves, the prosecutor and her lawyer, Ms. Lisa attended the Oak Bay Police office and provided a complete statement.  Although Dillinger was being held in custody, his past and present criminal connections suggested he or an associate might seek to intimidate Ms. Lisa once word was out that she had turned on the gang. Constable Roung made an application to have the woman placed, at least temporarily, in the witness protection program until the court proceedings were complete, then longer if necessary. In the program, she was provided with a modest living allowance and moved to a temporary location out of the country.

In addition to a full statement and as a further show of good faith, she took Constable Jack Hill and me the exact spot where she had tossed the starter pistol in the ocean off the Sidney waterfront. On January 24, 1984, some eight months later, an RCMP diver was called in and not only did he recover the starter pistol, he also recovered 3 spent and 5 live cartridges. Given the generally violent nature of the rip tides in the waters off the coast of Vancouver Island, it was an exceptional find.

Following is a few key items included in Ms. Lisa’s statement:

Met with John during week previous to the liquor store robbery and he indicated some plan underway – would pay off well financially or else it would be the end of everything. He was leaving for the Island the next day. I followed in my own car later that day to meet him.

John made all the plans on the liquor store robbery telling me the only way I could be connected was if he or Willy divulged my identity. John fully expected we would get upwards of $100,000 in the robbery as the bag was always stuffed.  He stole the get-a-way van at the ferry terminal and Willy was the driver for the robbery. I was present when discussions took place about acquiring guns and when they started planning for the next robbery. They had much bigger things in mind.

I was also present when discussions were held about obtaining dynamite and other items for the ferry robbery. At that meeting one of the people stated the police had rented an apartment next to his so they could keep an eye on him.  Still later someone stated the dynamite would be used to blow up a car or phone booth. They had a plunger that apparently would be used to set off the dynamite.  John had obtained a large handgun, he called it a magnum, the one he used for the liquor store robbery. Sean showed us some eavesdropping equipment he said he could hear through walls with.

A couple of days before the robbery John and I made calls looking for balaclavas, but couldn’t find any. Ron purchase two blue toques I cut holes in them for the eyes.  Ron also bought some leather driving gloves at the time he purchased the toques.  I went to Waddling to test the starter pistol and practice the call.

The night before the robbery, John plunked down a $100 bill to buy a bottle of Dom Perignon to celebrate.  The next morning John went to the ferry terminal and stole a van.  He also stole two other sets of licence plates.  After the robbery John complained about Willy being a lousy driver as he had ripped the door off the van and John nearly fell out.  John was very disappointed there was only about $7000, but on the other hand he was happy to find his hundred-dollar bill was included in the cash.

I later asked John whether he would have used the gun and he assured me that if it came down to him or the liquor store manager, he would shoot.  It was at that point I realized just how dangerous John was and that I needed to put some distance between the crew and myself.  That was went I decided to leave for California for a couple of weeks.

John gave Dube the money to fly to Port Hardy as he, John, just wanted to get rid of the man as soon as possible so they could get on with planning the ferry robbery, then he later told me about his ingenious plan to rob an armoured car.  His plan was to steal a van with back opening doors. They would then back up to the armoured car, fling open the doors where they would have a machine gun mounted. He said it was an ingenious idea used to rob an armoured car back east.  He was visibly excited and mentioned that on the long weekends there was a lot of money at the ferry terminal.

When I decided to leave and was heading back to Vancouver, John decided to come with me and while there we went out for dinner a couple of times and on one occasion I went with him while he purchased three balaclavas. One was orange I think. When he finally left to go back to Victoria, I packed up and headed to California. I never told him were I was going.

When I got back I spoke to John on the phone and he said all was good to go and that I should just sit tight at home. He said that after it was over they would all hunker down for a while, but once things cooled we would never have to worry about money again, that we’d even go to Paris on a Concord.  He said they had a stash of dynamite and several guns including a very special Belgium handgun.  He referred to the others as his “up-coming guerrilla friends”. I wanted no part of it so decided just to keep quiet and not see him.  That was the last time I saw John until we were arrested.

Signed Mona Lisa.

14. A quick trip to Port Hardy

As part of follow-up interviews, I made a quick flight to Port Hardy to interview Scooby Dube. As a special treat, it was the first time I had a chance to catch a ride on a Beechcraft A90 (Super King Air) the RCMP’s first venture into turboprop. At the time I had several hours as the pilot in command on the Victoria Flying Club’s, Beechcraft Musketeer, the granddaddy of the King Air. The Super King Air was a flying treat, and as an added bonus the weather was perfectly ‘shitty’ in Port Hardy, so I was able to watch the pilot execute a full ILS (Instrument landing) approach to the airport.

I would be in Port Hardy less than two hours as by prior arrangement the Port Hardy RCMP had picked up Dube and brought him to the Detachment Office to await my arrival. As expected, Dube was a basket case by the time I spoke to him as he was certain he was being charged with armed robbery. The best we could get from him, and it was an important point, was the fact that Dillinger had given him the twenty-dollar bills used to pay for his airfare. Dube even watched as Dillinger took those twenties from his wallet. Circumstantial? Yes, but in the context of other evidence, was another nail in Dillinger’s coffin.

15. Case Conclusion

After all the paperwork was submitted to the Crown on both cases, our crew devoted full attention to other cases, some of which were running simultaneously to this file. The East Sooke and Victoria “Cultivation and Trafficking in Psilocybin” (Magic Mushrooms), remained hot, so that kept Detective Bond and myself busy in East Sooke. It would be the first time either of us engaged lock specialist to gain entry to a building and taking several photographs of an ongoing grow-op.

It was likely one of the harder cases for the lock guy, John Deering, as we had to bushwhack our way in through acres of forest and undergrowth Psilocybe_semilanceata_6576in the dead of night. Even though Doug and I had made that trip before (several times in the daylight), it was hard slogging at night that was completed for the most part without a light as the residents were present when we made the entry.

While ‘shrooms’ were in seasonally plentiful supply in the forests of BC, they were mostly harvested by a diehard hippy community for personal use (I suppose they were the original “Get Fresh” people).
Photo (Web Source).  Wild shrooms. Somehow those little guys look vaguely familiar. I can see why it might blow someone’s mind if they ended up in the wrong place.

For commercial purposes, grow operations provided the best bang for the buck and the people we were tracking, did it in grand style. Part of their operation even served as the subject for a doctoral thesis on the commercial production of psilocybin.

The operation was of sufficient sophistication that suitcases filled with dried mushrooms were being transported by hired hands to Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg on a regular basis. The story will be written at some future time and will include a connection that took me all the way back to my time as a Crash Rescue Fireman with the US Air Force in Cold Lake.  That case was additionally significant in my life as it resulted in a major conspiracy trial involving seven co-conspirators persons, seven defence lawyers and ran for several weeks through the late spring and summer of 1984. The trial nearly caused Lynn and I to postpone our wedding plans for July 27 in Cold Lake as I was only released from court the afternoon before we were to leave.

As there was so much going on with active cases, it all but slipped from our minds that accused people in the Brentwood Liquor Store robbery and Ferry conspiracy cases, all plead guilty to the main charges. As time permits I will check the Times Colonist records to see what sentences were handed. Perhaps another member who reads this story can let me know the outcome.

Harold McNeill

Detective-Sergeant (Retired)


1. Bill Thistle, the Affable Con Artist

On one occasion while I was in uniform fundraising for some charity in front of the Fort and Foul Bay Liquor Store, Bill came out and borrowed $20 “as he was a little short of change at the moment.”  A few weeks after Christmas, when we chanced to meet at a coffee shop on Oak Bay Ave., he pulled out a wallet stuffed with 20’s, 50’s and 100’s and offered me a $100 to repay his debt. I declined, as I was quite satisfied with getting back my twenty. Such was the man and his flashy ways.

How he ended up dead in an upscale home in a Deep Cove, a home he shared on a part time basis with the attractive wife of a dangerous drug dealer who was serving to a long term in penitentiary, will have to wait for a future post. Now back to the case at hand.

2. Liquor Store Money:

The statement of the Liquor Store Manager is provided as sample of how, when something is done in an exacting manner, it can lead to excellent evidence.

To whom it may concern,

Having been asked to write and explanation of the handling of money in the store where I am employed, I hereby submit the following.

A cashier in a store or bank will normally keep all bills in a consistent system so that orientation of each bill in a group is the same, and all are organized in this pattern.  In my experience, most of the clerks in most stores follow the system which I use as follows:

If one takes any Canadian currency face up, the face of the Queen or other dignitary is on the right side.  If I rotate the bill 90 degrees to the right it is now face up with the head on the half nearest to me.  All bills will be faced in a similar manner and grouped by denominations beginning with the $1 dollar bills at the left with the rising values to the right, and this applies both in a cash register drawer and on a desk or table when assembling the deposit.  When supervising, if a clerk brings in money for deposit (to leave less in the cash register) I will normally check the count of all bills and complile them by the aforesaid method, marking the top bill of each denomination next to the edge which is now at the top.

However, some cashiers use a slightly different system, among them is Miss B. who occasionally works with us in this store.  She habitually keeps and stocks bill oriented 180 degrees from our usual system, so when marked at the top, that marking is on the opposite end to where I would mark it.

With regard to a specific $20 bill shown to me by a police investigator, we find the number 34 written on each end of the face of the bill.  The 34 written in pencil I identify as my own writing, which is somewhat distinctive both by inclination and because for some reason my hand does not ove smoothly, particularly in the curves of a 3.  The number 34 in ink on the other end of the bill appears to me by comparison with other specimens, to be written by Miss. B.

When Miss B’s  cashier count slip dated Friday….. is produced we find a “pickup’ credited which includes 34 twenty dollar bills.  She brought this money in after I had made a sub-deposit for the day at the bank.  From other cashiers records for the day I can show that this money was not included in that sub-deposit.  This money, therefore, was definitely part of the money of the balance of the deposit, which was stolen a gun point the next morning.

Miss B. has only worked with us a few times in several months and I consider it very unlikely that she has previously turned in a group of 34 $20.00 bills when I was present to check them and mark the other end to my system.


Mr. R.B.

 3:  The Investigators     For a full series of photographs of the CLEU police and civilian members LINK HERE

Einer Hemstead, Inspector,  Victoria PD
Jerry Moloci, Sergeant, RCMP
Don Russell, Sergeant, Saanich PD
John Roung, Constable, RCMP
Doug Bond, Detective, Victoria PD
John Gillbert, Constable, RCMP
Ross Swanton, Detective, Saanich PD
Harold McNeill, Detective, Oak Bay PD
John Deering, RCMP Special “I” Detail
Jack Hill, Constable, along with other members of the Central Saanich Police
Lynn Davis, Oak Bay Police Chief’s Personal Secretary and later to become Lynn McNeill

Cst. Kim ………… RCMP  (TBA)
Det. …………………. Sannich PD (TBA)

 The Dillinger Gang

John Dillinger:        New target at residence arrived a few days before the robbery. He became the team leader.
Mona Lisa:                Girlfriend of team leader
Willy Wonka:           Main target in the trafficking case at the residence
Mary Jane Doe:       Girlfriend of Willy and also a target in trafficking case
Sean Penn:                Occasional associate of Willy and Jane, a phone tap was also in place at his residence
Don Dube                  A pot smoking rounder from Port Hardy
Miscellaneous other players in bit parts.




Hindsight and complaints against police

Written by Harold McNeill on June 5th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts



The above RCMP Officers, Constable Georges Gevaudan, Constable James Larche and Constable Joseph Ross, were killed by a suspect who has since been arrested. Two other officers were also wounded, but will survive.

Friday, June 5, 2014: (Moncton, N.B. Reported by all Media)

Only this morning (Friday, June 6, 2014)) did I learn of the tragic events in Moncton. Had I known earlier I would not have posted this story when I did. With a police killing, it’s always closer to home, partly because I  spent thirty years as a policeman and partly because police officers represent security in our society.

I have no idea what investigators will turn up in the present case, but at this moment, our hearts go out to all those who were left behind and whose lives will be forever changed. Over the coming days they deserve a measure of freedom from being intruded upon by the second guessing that comes with these events.  In that regard, the posting of the original story that filled this space will be set aside to some future date as the content of this post and another longer post that will follow, speaks to the issues at hand.


Original Post, June 2, 2014 Victoria, B.C. (Times Colonist Report).

The full post concerning the tragic deaths of these three officers and of many others over the years, is now posted at:
Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness




Amalgamation in Greater Victoria

Written by Harold McNeill on October 25th, 2011. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Editorials

Capital Regional District

Collage (L to R): (T) Langford, Sidney, Victoria, Saanich, Highlands,
(C) Esquimalt, (Malahat), (CRD) Oak Bay, Metchosin,
(B) Colwood, Sooke, North Saanich, Central Saanich, View Royal
(Link to Photo Album)

Link to a 2015 Research Summary on Police Force Size vs Cost/Efficiency
A Literature Review of the Amalgamation of Police Services in Canada
(This is a great summary for those wishing to learn more about whether the police in
Greater Victoria should be amalgamated)

Link to Next Post: Amalgamation in Greater Victoria: Questions and Answers

Link to Most Recent Post Directed at Young People:  Local Communities: Keeping the Spirit Alive

The Real Costs of Amalgamation (Time Colonist November 23, 2014)

Note:  By pure chance after writing Amalgamation: Question and Answer (link above) during a further search on the subject, an astounding discovery was made: The Bish Papers.  These papers, written by a renowned Economist and researcher into Public Administration, stripped away the veil of opinion and conjecture that defined the debate on Amalgamation to this point in time. You may still wish to read this post and as well as the Questions and Answers, however the solid, reliable information comes from the papers written by Dr. Robert L. Bish.  Link here to:
Amalgamation: A Search for the Truth

1. October 17, 2014: Introduction to Updated Post

The Capital Regional District: With thirteen members spread over 2,340 km² the CRD is roughly three times the size of Calgary, and somewhat larger than the 1,800 km² GTA (the Amalgamated Six in Toronto). However, our population clearly considerably less.

 The CRD (including the Malahat), situated in a secluded corner of the Pacific Northwest, has within its small spread of 593,o59 acres filled with mountains, inlets, bays, forests, farmland, as well as an ocean border and dozens of streams, rivers. and lakes.  Almost every home in the region is situated no more than fifteen from long stretches of sun-kissed sand. Looking towards the eastern and southern horizons, you see snow capped victoria hiking trails mapmountains and a sprinkling of smaller islands around which killer whales, sea lions, seals and salmon entertain tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Trail Map: The CRD has a network parks connected by a seemingly endless series of hiking and biking trails that reach to every community from Oak Bay in the south to North Saanich, then west to Metchosin and Sooke. Because of the mild climate these parks and trails are heavily used year-long (double click to open the map).

The mild weather also draws large numbers of Canada’s top athletes to half dozen indoor and outdoor high-performance centers sprinkled across the region.

As part of the infrastructure, the CRD comes equipped with world-class hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, recreation and sports facilities, entertainment and shopping, virtually everything a growing family might desire, yet there is still plenty of room for singles and seniors who desire to become fully engaged in a healthy lifestyle. In a few words, the Capital Region is a pristine jewel in the Pacific Northwest that draws tourists and new residents from across Canada and around the world. Calgary also does that, but Oil Money is the game that draws the most people to Calgary.

All things being equal, it would be difficult to find anyone in the CRD who would rather live, raise a family or retire elsewhere in Canada. Yet, despite this abundance, one member of the CRD family is constantly agitating to change the governing and administrative structure. To accomplish this they would amalgamate some or all of the parts into one unit with the goal of achieving ‘economies of scale’ and ‘efficiency’.   To provide some balance to their negative campaign, this article is being updated.



  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.