Montreal break-in caught on tape, uploaded to YouTube, Facebook

Screen grabs from security-camera footage posted on YouTube show a a thief breaking into Steffan D’Alessandro’s twin brother’s apartment and making off with more than $25,000 in cash and cheques. Montreal newlyweds Steffan D’Alessandro and Magdalena Tarczynski received the money at their wedding.

Screen grabs from security-camera footage posted on YouTube show a a thief breaking into Steffan D’Alessandro’s twin brother’s apartment and making off with more than $25,000 in cash and cheques. Montreal newlyweds Steffan D’Alessandro and Magdalena Tarczynski received the money at their wedding.

Photograph by: YouTube, The Gazette

MONTREAL – Steffan D’Alessandro and his wife returned from their 11-day honeymoon in Jamaica last month eager to tell their families about their trip.

But shortly after doing so, the newlyweds were asked to watch a bizarre video that showed a thief breaking into D’Alessandro’s twin brother’s apartment and fleeing with $13,000 in cash and $14,000 in cheques that the young couple had received from their wedding guests.

D’Alessandro and his wife, Magdalena Tarczynski, could hardly believe their eyes.

During the five-minute video, the brazen robber picks the lock on the front door, leaves the door open, makes a phone call on his cellphone and then rushes from the apartment. He returns a minute later with gloves on, heads straight to the bedroom and appears to shove an envelope down his trousers before fleeing.

Amazingly, the robbery was caught by a security camera that Jay D’Alessandro had installed in his Côte St. Luc apartment several months ago. Jay D’Alessandro, a security camera buff, said he has no idea who stole the money, but he posted the surveillance video of the robbery on YouTube and Facebook, hoping the public will be able to help identify the thief.

The money and cheques had been locked in a computer desk drawer for three days when the robber broke into the apartment on July 22.

Jay D’Alessandro, 26, had been planning to go to the wedding hall two days later to pay the outstanding $13,000 bill for the reception while his brother was on his honeymoon.

Steffan D’Alessandro said his twin brother was devastated when he told him about the robbery.

“He was practically going to cry,” he recalled. “But I told him not to worry, that it was just money and that something worse could have happened.”

While the couple was away, their families contacted their guests and asked those who had written cheques to cancel them. Several guests wrote new cheques, for larger amounts, because they felt sorry for the young couple.

D’Alessandro’s parents ended up footing the bill for the wedding hall.

Jay D’Alessandro said he returned home a few hours after the robbery and discovered his apartment door was unlocked. He headed into his bedroom and his heart sank when he saw that two drawers had been ripped apart and the money was gone.

“I felt terrible,” he said. “I was thinking: ‘How am I going to explain this to him?’ I had the responsibility of paying the hall and the money was stolen.”

D’Alessandro said he called 911 and viewed the surveillance tape, a copy of which he has given to police. “I was thinking: ‘Who is this guy?’ I have never seen him before. Thank God I had the surveillance tape – it wouldn’t look to good on my side.”

After witnessing the bizarre behaviour of the thief – including watching him make a phone call as he searches the apartment – Jay D’Alessandro said he thinks someone may have sent the robber to his home. But he has no idea who because very few people knew he had the money.

“My laptop and Palm Pilot were left untouched,” he said. “The only thing was missing was money.”

Commander Sylvain Bissonnette of Station 9 in Côte St. Luc also watched the video and said the thief didn’t use the standard modus operandi of a robber. Most thieves head straight to the master bedroom and search drawers near the bed for money or other valuable items, then flee as quickly as possible, Bissonnette said.

That was not done in this case.

“He doesn’t close the door,” Bissonnette said. “He makes a phone call. He leaves and then comes back. It is very bizarre.”

Anyone who recognizes the thief is asked to call police at 514-280-0909.

kwilton@thegazette.canwest.com

Sprung by Facebook: geek justice for ‘porn-surfing laptop thief’

A screenshot taken from the stolen laptop showing the alleged thief browsing for porn.A screenshot taken from the stolen laptop showing the alleged thief browsing for porn.

Asher Moses
August 12, 2009 – 2:19PM
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An 18-year-old, accused of stealing a laptop in Melbourne and surfing porn on it, thought he was home free after evading police for two months, but he came undone when he logged on to Facebook.

The laptop was reportedly stolen from a staff member of ladder manufacturer Branach in the vicinity of Narre Warren, in Melbourne’s south-east, on June 8.

Fortunately for Branach, the company is a client of Sydney-based managed IT support firm Navigatum, which can connect to and control any of Branach’s laptops and diagnose technical problems from anywhere.

Using remote access software called Kaseya, Navigatum senior network technician David Stevenson set up an alert so that, whenever the stolen laptop was used to log in to the internet, the software would send him an email.

“I can tell when he’s online and from there I can jump on to my laptop and start watching what he’s doing,” Stevenson said in a phone interview.

“We were watching him for a little while but, because he was logging on at really random times like really late at night, we set up some scripts to capture [screenshots of] what he was doing on the screen every 30 seconds, and that was then uploaded to our server.”

On top of that, Stevenson installed a keylogger on the laptop “so we were able to log all of his keystrokes and passwords and websites that he visited”.

Stevenson said it was a few weeks before the user first began browsing the web with the laptop on June 24.

The screenshots, seen by this reporter, allegedly showed the thief browsing for porn videos for the first few weeks. He allegedly sourced the racy clips by conducting Google searches for terms such as “porn” and “porn videos”.

But Stevenson knew that, if he bided his time, the user would slip up eventually. It wasn’t possible to identify him immediately because the stolen laptop did not have a webcam.

Towards the end of July, the teen logged in to his Facebook account and, within an hour, he was arrested and charged with the theft, Stevenson said.

“From his Facebook account we managed to get his date of birth and school that he went to, and from there we were able to track him down,” Stevenson said.

This reporter saw the screenshots of the Facebook account but these, along with the alleged thief’s name, cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

Victoria Police confirmed the incident and said the teen was charged with theft but had yet to face court.

Stevenson said the police told him that, thanks in large part to his detective work, they were able to get the alleged thief to admit to a string of car thefts in the area. He also dobbed in two of his accomplices, Stevenson said.

“They [police] weren’t impressed with the amount of paper work they had to fill out so I’d say they managed to retrieve quite a lot,” he said.

Stevenson’s high-tech vigilante detective work is one of the first cases of geek justice found in Australia but it follows a string of similar cases overseas.

In June, an Apple tool called “Find My iPhone” helped a US iPhone user track down his stolen phone without needing to place a single call to police.

In April, a US woman checking her video surveillance system from the internet while she was at work caught four people robbing her house. She was able to watch while 18 officers surrounded the house and nabbed the looters.

Last year in New York, US police arrested two men and recovered almost $6000 worth of stolen computers and electronic devices after the owner of one of the stolen laptops was able to connect remotely to her Apple MacBook and photograph the thief.

Similarly, when an engineering student’s house was burgled in Philadelphia in March last year, he published the clues on a discussion website and an army of volunteer sleuths were able to track down the thieves and seize back two of the three stolen goods.

But Stevenson said such high-tech sleuthing tools weren’t always foolproof.

“We had another laptop that was stolen over in America but as soon as the cops went to confront the thief they ended up throwing it in the river.”

Diamond seizure: pig gobbles up precious stone

A pig has found itself out in the cold this week after troughing down the diamond centrepiece from a £1,500 wedding ring.

Mrs Moon, from Sowerby, North Yorkshire, put her hand into the pig’s pen at Easingwold Maize Maze, North Yorkshire to pet the 10 week-old Kune Kune piglet when it clamped its pork chops around her hand. She quickly pulled away, escaping without injury but minus the £1,000 diamond.

Speaking to the BBC, Mrs. Moon said:

“The pig came towards the fence and I put my hand through and it just clasped its teeth round the ring and for a while I was tugging and I couldn’t get my hand away.”

“When I did my hand was filthy and I wiped my hand and realised that it had taken the stone out of the centre of the ring.”

Mrs. Moon was visiting the attraction, which is also home to goats, sheep, fluffy rabbits, guinea pigs and ducklings, with her husband Les, 63, and grandchildren Josh and Emilia, aged four and 20 months.

For those who suspect insurance fraud, Mrs. Moon had this to say:

“Quite a crowd gathered round after it had happened. One woman said she would be a witness if the insurance company thought I was talking porkies. But the ring has a lot of sentimental value to me.”

But Mrs. Moon may have had a lucky escape. Pigs have extremely powerful jaws, and while they rarely bite, they are perfectly capable of cutting through bone. While naturally vegetarian, pigs have been known to chomp through fellow farmyard creatures that happen to wander into their pen.

This is not the first time a four-legged fiend has made off with a valued possession. Last year, a family in Apex, North Carolina had their savings snapped up by the family dog after they left $400 in note sitting on the dressing table. A colander and hose were the makeshift tools that helped recover $160 in note fragments over the following days.

Farmer Paul Caygill, who runs the visitor attraction near York now has the unenviable task of sorting through the pig’s droppings in the hope of a finding Mrs. Moon’s diamond in the (t)rough.

He told BBC News he had not had any luck as yet, but had enlisted visitors’ help in his search through the slop:

“I have got the children on it as well so hopefully we’ll find it at some point.”

What amount of money would get you delving through dung? Have your say.

British names on street signs grate in Montreal

In 2006, the English on street signs in the Montreal area of Mount Royal area, were painted over after long battle with city. This year a city councillor is asking to "Frenchisize" existing English street names.

British names on street signs grate in Montreal

Councillor wants McGill, Amherst ‘Frenchisized’

Giuseppe Valiante, National Post; With Files From Canwest News Service Montreal’s French identity is being eroded by the creeping influence of the English language, examples of which include street signs that are graced with the names of genocidal British conquerors, says a Montreal city councillor.

In order to curtail the invasion, Nicolas Montmorency, an independent councillor in Montreal’s east end municipality of Riviere-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles, is proposing the city rename Amherst Street, named after the former commander and chief of the British army who captured Canada, Jeffrey Amherst.

He is also asking councillors to vote to cease using “non-francophone expressions” in public places and to “Frenchisize” existing English street names, such as McGill College Avenue and City Councillors Street.

The two motions will be proposed at the Aug. 24 city council meeting that he hopes will “bring back Montreal’s French character,” according to the Facebook group he has set up.

The first motion cites that Montreal’s “essence and charter” make it a French city, and the French language is at the heart of the identity and culture of all Montrealers regardless of origin, therefore all public places should have French names and expressions.

The second motion claims that Jeffrey Amherst pioneered the practice of genocide in the Americas with the use of bacterial agents and also states that he had previously declared the native people a “vile race.”

“The culture and history of Montreal’s English should not be unjustly represented by someone overtly in favour of the extermination of a people,” reads the motion.

Louise O’Sullivan, a mayoral candidate in the upcoming municipal elections, is reportedly supporting the motion.

Darren Becker, a spokesman for the City of Montreal, said the city is focusing its time on infrastructure and public transit, not “rewriting history.”

“If no one seconds [the motion] it won’t be debated and I can tell you that it certainly won’t be seconded by anyone from the mayor’s party or team,” Mr. Becker said.

All of Montreal’s streets adhere to the city’s charter, which stipulates that words such as road and street must be in French. But “the street names in Montreal reflect the history of the city,” said Mr. Becker. “The names date back to when there were French and English mayors, that’s just a reality.”

He pointed to the flag of Montreal, which is adorned with four emblems reflecting the “founding fathers” of the city: the fleur-de-lys for France, the shamrock for Ireland, the thistle for Scotland and the red rose of Lancaster for England.

How history is represented in Montreal has always been contentious. Streets have changed names depending on the political party in power.

Dorchester Boulevard, originally named after Lord Dorchester, a governor of Quebec after the British conquest, was renamed after the former Quebec premier Rene Levesque — except where the street passes through Westmount, a predominantly English-speaking area with strong British roots.

Thousands of Montrealers were furious after the current mayor proposed changing the historic street that lines the east flank of Montreal’s mountain, Parc Avenue, after his political mentor, the former Quebec premier, Robert Bourassa. Mayor Gerald Tremblay was forced to back down.

Calls to Mr. Montmorency’s office were not returned as of press time.

Montmorency also wants University St. to become rue de l’Universite, McGill College Avenue changed to Avenue du College McGill, and City Councillors Street to Rue des Conseillers municipaux.

Amherst was the British commander who captured Louisbourg in 1758, then laid siege to Montreal, forcing the French to capitulate in 1760.

Cow gives birth to calf with two heads

Jean-Baptiste Collard, a Belgian farmer, got the shock of a lifetime when one of his cows gave birth to a calf with two heads.

Published Daniel Saltman: 12:15PM BST 12 Aug 2009

Cow gives birth to calf with two heads

The mutant moo-er has two separate heads but only one brain, meaning both heads react simultaneously and in unison Photo: BARCROFT

Mr Collard oversaw what he expected to be a normal birth with the help of a local vet at his farm in Flamisoul, Belgium, last week.

But he got more than he bargained for. The mutant has two separate heads but only one brain, meaning both heads react simultaneously.

    It also has four eyes and two mouths but only one pair of ears.

    Surprised Mr Collard said: “I called the vet because when my cow was in labour, I noticed the birth might get complicated. The calf seemed too big.

    “The legs came out first, so we put a rope around them and pulled the calf out, as usual.

    “But then the vet cried out: ‘It has two heads!'”

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    “I immediately thought: ‘what an exit present for me, I’m thinking about retiring and now this happens’.”

    “After an hour, I could slowly give it a bottle of milk. That’s when I noticed both tongues react at the same time. The vet later explained this is due to the fact that the calf only has one brain.

    “I hope it goes well with my new calf, I’m already attached to it, it’s like a baby to me. And I see the mother is also crazy about her.”

    The mother and calf are presently both well but the future of the calf is uncertain.