NEWS January 14th, 2009

By Karolyn Coorsh

Crime continues to fall

But North York saw several high-profile incidents in 2008 from murders to a lost baby

An abandoned baby, a murdered florist and a huge counterfeit goods bust kept police busy in the areas of Downsview, Don Mills and Willowdale in 2008.

But despite the more high profile cases, crime rates have been dropping for the past few years and this year proved to be no exception in Toronto police’s 32 and 33 divisions.

The local numbers are in line with the city’s overall drop in crime, though the stats indicate gun violence rose across Toronto.

The numbers may be down but 33 Division Inspector Kim Yeandle says police remain focused on their biggest challenges: robberies and break-and-enters.

“We were certainly seeing a lot of street robberies near the Fairview Mall,” Yeandle said. “We actually had a project in place just before Christmas that spoke specifically to that and we’ve had some great success.”

The project, dubbed Christmas Wrap Up, upped the visibility of uniformed police in areas where street robberies increase during the holidays. Crime prevention officers were also out speaking with the public on how to avoid becoming victims of crime.

Officers at 33 Division hold similar initiatives throughout the year, Yeandle said, including a Break and Enter Academy that teaches residents how to protect their homes.

“There’s break-and-enters throughout the city,” she said. “It’s just one tool we use here to help educate the community.”

32 Division, which also saw a drop in the overall crime rate, did investigate some unusual incidents in 2008.

In a case full of twists and turns a young girl, dubbed Baby Angelica-Leslie, was found alone in a cold plaza stairwell near Leslie St. and Finch Ave. East last January.

A victim of an apparent abandonment, the infant was placed in foster care and a police investigation was launched to find her kin.

In May, police arrested and charged her biological parents. Shortly after, officials with the Children’s Aid Society confirmed adoption proceedings for Angelica-Leslie were underway.

Tragedy struck in February when florist Felicia Hosany was murdered in her Wilson Heights Blvd. and Sheppard Ave. West floral shop during an apparent robbery.

The 51-year-old was found dead at the back of her store with tape covering her nose and mouth. An autopsy confirmed she had suffocated.

In May, police charged two suspected serial robbers with Hosany’s murder.

Local homicide investigations that have so far yielded no arrests include those into the murders of 22-year-old Andrew Evan Rouse, who was found shot to death along a bike path in the Bathurst and Sheppard area in August, and 31-year-old Gary Anthony Mitchell, whose body was found in a parked car on a residential street in the same area in September.

There have also been no arrests to date in the stabbing death of Yuan (Tracy) Tian, 31, who was found in her Bayview and Sheppard area apartment in September.

In February, police raided a Don Mills Rd. and Van Horne Dr. area home during one of the biggest luxury goods busts in Canadian history.

A 65-year-old man was arrested in the home and officers seized over $10 million in phony jewellery, wallets and handbags bearing brand names like Chanel, Louis Vitton and Christian Dior, all imported from China, police said.

Police are constantly working to improve crime stats, Yeandle said, and are continuing to do so in 2009.

“Certainly, an overriding goal for the service and for the division is to keep driving crime down,” she said.