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Unsuccessful theft attempts net failed North Van thief 45 days jail

Bookstore and auto parts shop among businesses targeted
A North Vancouver man who was nabbed by police in the acts of breaking into two local businesses was sent to jail for 45 days. | Cindy Goodman / North Shore News

A trio of unsuccessful attempts to steal from commercial businesses has netted a North Van man a 45-day jail sentence.

Stephen Russell, 48, was handed the sentence Nov. 28 after pleading guilty in court to breaking into a bookstore and an auto parts store in North Vancouver and pinching a pair of runners from SportChek in West Vancouver.

Russell was spotted all three times and quickly nabbed by police.

The first break-in happened on East Third Street in North Vancouver in the early hours of July 1, when a resident phoned police to report two people trying to pick the lock of a residential building across the street. When they couldn’t get the lock open, they moved on to the ground-level bookstore, said prosecutor Victoria Hanna.

When police arrived, they found the metal lock to the store pried open and the metal frame around the door bent. Russell was found inside with a backpack containing pry bars, screwdrivers, box cutters, pliers and wire cutters, said Hanna, although nothing was taken from the store.

On July 12, Russell was seen taking a pair of shoes worth about $200 from SportChek and leaving the store. He was later arrested and the runners recovered and returned to the store.

Then on Aug. 10, the owner of a Lynn Valley autobody store called police around 2 a.m. to report he could see someone inside his business putting items in a bag on a live feed from his CCTV camera. Russell was still in the store when police arrived, said Hanna. They observed the door to the business had been pried open and Russell was going through toolboxes. Nothing appeared to be missing, she added.

Russell’s defence lawyer Mitchell Fogel said his client is remorseful for what he did. “He was short of work at the time,” he said, adding Russell admits to being “drunk and acting very stupidly.”

The crimes weren’t very sophisticated, he added.

Fogel asked for a conditional sentence to be served in the community, but Judge Joseph Galati rejected that, sentencing Russell instead to 45 days in jail. He will also serve 12 months’ probation.