A man who stole up to $300,000 worth of jewelry from shop in North Vancouver then tried to pawn it back to the man who owned the jewelry store has received a suspended sentence for his crime and will serve 18 months probation.
Mike Taj, 38, of West Vancouver, was handed the penalty March 9 after pleading guilty in North Vancouver provincial court to three charges related to a smash-and-grab at Romance Jewellers in Lynn Valley Centre mall on Sept. 22, 2020. The charges included break-and-enter, possession of stolen property and trafficking in stolen property.
An alarm was triggered when a set of outside glass doors at the east entrance to the mall were smashed around 1:20 in the morning.
Once inside, the thief broke into the gate around the store and smashed jewelry display cases to grab valuables inside.
“Quite a number of items were taken,” Crown counsel Farah Malik told the judge, including a variety of white and yellow gold earrings, with semi-precious stones.
Locked cases under the display cases containing jewelry were also broken into and their contents stolen.
The reported value of items taken ranged from $250,000 and $300,000, Malik told the judge.
Police identified a male suspect on security camera video footage of the break-in.
In a strange twist of fate, the man who owned the jewelry shop also owned a pawn shop, Vancouver Cash for Gold.
Taj later went to the pawn shop and tried to pawn several items stolen in the break-in, including a white gold bracelet, and a yellow gold bracelet, valued at $500 each, which the store owner recognized, said Malik.
It was later discovered Taj had been to the pawn shop with items stolen from the jewelry store several times before he was recognized, pawning off $2,500 worth of jewelry.
Both Crown and defence lawyer Danny Markovitz said Taj committed the theft while in the throes of a drug addiction.
“He was in a drug craze,” said Markovitz.
Judge Joanne Challenger noted the smash-and-grab took place at the same time as a “spree of offences” for which Taj already received conditional discharges.
Those included breaking into a car lot in Vancouver and stealing a vehicle battery, breaking in to a construction site in West Vancouver and threatening a pedestrian who was walking his dog before speeding away in a vehicle.
Markovitz said Taj has since turned his life around. “He swears up and down he’ll never be in another courtroom facing similar charges again,” he said.
Challenger ordered Taj to take counselling for drug addiction as directed while on probation and to pay $5,000 in restitution.