http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Edmonton/2009/02/20/8471481.htmlKeeping them in jail is not easy, and the cops aren't happy.
By ANDREW HANON
One day after Edmonton police Chief Mike Boyd announced a crackdown on muggings in the city, the head of the cops? union received an email from one of his frustrated members.
The cop told Sgt. Tony Simioni that last week he had arrested a woman and charged her with stealing an 84-year-old?s purse.
But when they ran the suspect?s name in their computer system, they could barely believe what came up on the screen.
The 43-year-old, who admitted that she?s a chronic drug addict, already has more than 100 criminal convictions dating back to 1984, mostly in connection with victimizing the elderly.
This was the third time she?d been charged since being released from jail on Dec. 8.
To top it off, the woman had a laundry list of ?interim release undertakings,? which are given to people as conditions of being let out on bail.
In other words, the woman had been charged, released on bail, charged again, released again, over and over.
?I stopped counting when I reached 12 orders,? the arresting officer said in the email to Simioni.
?We kept arresting her and bringing her in,? Simioni said. ?They kept adding conditions and releasing her.?
It?s clear from the woman?s record that she?ll do nearly anything to feed her habit.
Her convictions include assault, theft, personation, fraud and obstruction. She?s been nailed for failing to comply with conditions of her release from jail, failure to appear in court and being unlawfully at large.
One of her favourite grifts is to show up on a senior citizen?s doorstep, tell a sob story about her car breaking down and then ask to come in and use their phone. She sweet-talks her way into their bedrooms, where she grabs whatever jewelry, cash or other valuables she can get her hands on.
?When they interviewed her, she readily admitted that she preferred to prey on seniors because they?re easy targets and don?t offer much resistance,? Simioni said yesterday.
Perversely, Simioni could not divulge the name of the woman because of privacy laws.
But she?s a perfect example of how police themselves feel handcuffed by the justice system.
?The chief?s plan (to crack down on muggers) is laudable,? Simioni said, ?but we can?t do this in isolation.?
Personal robberies in Edmonton have shot up 30% this year, prompting Boyd to announce on Wednesday that police will step up presence on the streets, both in-uniform and undercover. Dog teams, Air-1 and even tactical units will be used, he vowed.
?We?re going to throw everything we have ? by way of resources ? at this issue,? Boyd said.
And that, Simioni said, is the problem.
?It?s reasonable for the public to expect the police to protect them from these people,? he said. ?We?re doing our part.?
Simioni used a (former chief) ?Fred Rayner-ism,? comparing police attempts to catch small-time criminals and keep them behind bars to ?trying to put a double-sized sheet on a queen-sized mattress. You pull one side on and the other side comes off. It just keeps going back and forth.?
In recent months several measures have been announced to help keep habitual, career criminals behind bars. Among them: Crown prosecutors whose only job is handling bail hearings and a team of police officers to help them gather the necessary information.
However, Simioni said, some of the measures have yet to be implemented so it?s not yet known if they?ll be effective.
?We?re hopeful, but we haven?t seen it yet,? he said. ?They certainly didn?t come in time to help the 84-year-old woman whose purse was stolen.?
One final note: It?s believed that after she was charged last week, the 43-year-old was finally denied bail. Must be a 13-strike firstname.lastname@example.org