Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence there has still been no arrest involving a break and enter to a family home in Cobourg from last year.
Elizabeth Ewart was born and raised in Cobourg and it is where her family home is still.
Her family has owned the nineteenth century home for over 70 years.
Though she no longer lives in Cobourg, her brother remained in the family home until his passing in September 2016.
She feels there was a lack of professionalism in the way the investigation has proceeded from the Cobourg Police Service.
“I’m extremely frustrated there have been no arrests,” said Ewart.
The family home is in the downtown area of Cobourg, but Ewart has been told that some, if not all of the CCTV (cameras) positioned at various locations in the downtown area don’t work.
Ewart also said she believes police did not investigate the incident properly and didn’t take evidence from the scene that could have helped lead to an arrest.
Around 4 p.m. on October 27 a friend visiting the residence saw evidence of a break-in when they opened the front door.
Things were in disarray in the hallway and fearing someone was still in the house they left the house immediately.
“They were very worried, of course, immediately called me and I called the Cobourg Police.”
“I told the dispatcher that my house had been burgled and I believed the burglar might still be in the house.”
An hour later, Ewart called Cobourg Police dispatch again and was dumbfounded to learn that no officers had been to her house yet.
“I repeated that it was possible the burglar was in the house.”
“Despite having given this information twice, only one officer was sent to the house to investigate it.”
When the officer heard someone inside the residence he called for backup, but by the time the second officer had arrived the suspect fled out the front door.
The suspect fled so fast, his hat was found on the road.
“Obviously, his fingerprints were on the doorknob and yet the police did not dust for fingerprints.”
“I realize it’s not possible to take fingerprints from every surface, but these burglars touched a number of hard surfaces – they touched almost everything in the house. They also left a shiny condom wrapper on the floor, a metal lid they used as an ashtray, and many candles and cigarette butts – but no evidence was collected by the police.”
Ewart describes the home as being vandalized, ransacked and everything of value that could carried away was stolen.
The suspects cut the wires on both phones close to the floor, smashed the phone in her mother’s bedroom, broke her radio, rifled through her most private and personal things.
“They stuck knives in the wall to hang a tarpaulin over the doorway, opened a condom packet and had sex in her bed – the bed I sleep in whenever I’m home.”
“They left burnt candles and cigarette butts on the bed and allowed some cigarettes to burn to ash in my mother’s closet.”
Ewart said, “It’s a miracle the house didn’t burn down.”
Thieves also stole the television, stereo equipment, her mother’s beautiful set of silverware, her mahogany jewellery box with all of her best jewellery including the RCAF wings that belonged to her brother, a navigator who died in WW II.
“I even found the 1942 telegram, addressed to my grandmother confirming his death, lying on the living room floor where many of our other belongings were strewn.”
Many other things were stolen as well including the top of a boy’s baseball uniform from the 1950’s that belonged to her brother, a very expensive photographic portrait of her taken at an art exhibition in New York City in 1981 that her husband had commissioned and given to her mother for Christmas.
The total value of the items stolen easily exceeds $5,000.
A week after the break-in, a neighbour spotted four gallon-sized plastic gasoline containers in the backyard of the Ewart home along with a soft brown suitcase. The police were called and the officer who attended reported that both the suitcase and the gasoline containers were empty, but he wouldn’t remove them from the yard, even though they didn’t belong to the family.
When Ewart and her sister arrived at the home on November 7 she saw the gasoline containers in the backyard.
“We went into the backyard to place the containers in a garbage bag and only two were empty. One was full to the brim with gasoline and the other was three-quarters full.”
“I mentioned this to (an officer) and very politely asked him if the police, on their rounds, could keep an eye out. He replied, “We’re not your private police force.”
“Judging from the results of the investigation,” Ewart said, “they’re not my public police force either.”
When she was asked to give a formal statement to police concerning the break-in, wearing rubber gloves she rounded up all the remaining evidence at the home including cigarette butts, tin lid, condom wrapper and candles.
“Which I sealed in new plastic bags and took to the police station in the hope that they could check those items for fingerprints.”
Thinking things couldn’t get much worse, Ewart said, they did.
On her third day in Cobourg, she received her late brother’s bank statement in the mail.
His account had almost been cleaned out.
“Obviously, the same person or persons who burgled the house and rooted through every drawer must have found his bank card or cheque book.”
“This brazen criminal spent several thousand dollars of my brother’s money on King Street, on everything from a $7.00 sandwich to $500 a time at the Mac’s Milk Store across from the police station.”
A cheque was cashed at one point for $1,500.
“There must be endless CCTV images of this person at cash machines, the stores and gas stations (he) “shopped” at, but still no arrests.”
Clearly frustrated, Ewart said it wasn’t a sophisticated break in, the door was simply kicked in.
“A solid door with two locks and a heavy bolt was violently kicked in and the footprints are still there. To kick it open required a great deal of effort.”
Ewart said the officer who is in charge of the investigation has been very polite and at one point said the investigation would be turned over to detectives, but that never happened.
Citing a major amount of evidence left behind, but apparently not much investigation, Ewart is clearly frustrated that no arrests have been made after five months.
“After these monsters left an overwhelming trail of evidence behind, which the police didn’t bother to collect, they’re still casually walking the main street of Cobourg trying to cash more cheques. Clearly, they have no fear of the police, perhaps with good reason.”
Ewart was so concerned about the investigation she wrote an eight page e-mail to Cobourg Mayor Gil Brocnaier who sits on the Police Services Board.
Brocanier advised the Deputy Chief of Police of Ewart’s concerns and said police would be organizing a neighbourhood meeting to hear concerns from the residents.
“Unless you’ve been the victim of a home invasion yourself, it’s impossible to understand the psychological onslaught you suffer when you stand in the ruins of you’re vandalized home and realize that so much of your life has vanished – all the things you’ve held dear and the things the people you’ve loved most in the world have held dear.”
Her concern from the start was that she told the dispatcher about the possibility that someone was in the house and they only sent one officer. And she had to call back for that to happen.
The suspect ran out the front door and there is no image of him on any cameras situated in the downtown area.
Police didn’t dust for fingerprints, “even though there were obviously fingerprints on the doorknob since he’d left in a hurry.”
“They didn’t collect any evidence at all though it was apparent to them that these people had been sleeping there for some time because of the accumulation of cigarette butts and used candles.”
“I find it very hard to believe that there is no CCTV footage at any of these places or that none of the employees can identify the criminal.”
“Who spends $548.36 at Mac’s Milk store?
Ewart also wonders who can cash a cheque for $1,500 without proper identification.
Cobourg Police did not return e-mails for comment.