4 store owners who stood their ground

A Gatineau, Que., convenience store owner who resorted to bear spray and spanking to thwart a pair of would-be thieves is only the latest Canadian shopkeeper to resort to vigilante methods. Here's a look at some other high-profile examples.
This video footage shows a Gatineau, Que. store owner fighting back against a pair of thieves on June 6. (Zhen Yang)

Gatineau, Que., convenience store owner Zhen Yang was working behind the cash register early on the morning of June 6 when two masked men armed with knives approached and demanded money.

Yang used bear-repellent spray and even resorted to spanking to foil the attempted robbery. He hopes the fight will be his family's last.

"We don't want the fights to happen again," says Yang, who added his store has been robbed four times in the last four years.

Police do not recommend confronting robbers, and instead suggest businesspeople call 911 to provide descriptions and information about incidents rather than taking matters into their own hands.

Here's a look at other incidents involving business owners who confronted people suspected of threatening their livelihoods.

Toronto Chinatown grocer

On May 23, 2009, Toronto Chinatown grocer David Chen apprehended a man he believed was stealing plants from his store, the Lucky Moose Food Mart. The case garnered national headlines, and seventeen months later, Chen and his two co-accused were found not guilty on charges of assault and forcible confinement.

In the wake of Chen's arrest, two Toronto MPs – Olivia Chow of the NDP and Joe Volpe of the Liberals -- tabled private member's bills and the federal government introduced legislation to clarify self-defence and property rights/citizen's arrest provisions. Bill C-26 has passed in the House of Commons and is before the Senate.

Naveen Polapady

On Aug. 21 2011, Toronto restaurant owner Naveen Polapady fought with a man he says repeatedly tried to steal from his restaurant.

Polapady, who says he saw someone trying to break into the storage truck parked behind Maroli, his restaurant at Bloor Street West near Euclid Avenue, has been charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. The restaurateur has said he was defending his property against a thief who had targeted his business. Police, however, allege Polapady hid in the bushes waiting for the man, a claim Polapady has denied.

New Brunswick stakeout

Early in the morning on Jan. 6, 2000, a pair of would-be thieves broke into George MacFarlane’s convenience store near Fredericton, N.B. What they didn’t realize was that the 55-year-old MacFarlane was there, waiting for them – with a shotgun.   Not only did he chase them out of the store but he fired shots at their van as it escaped. MacFarlane was subsequently taken into police custody, becoming a bit of local hero in the process.

In court, MacFarlane argued that his store had already been held up four times, and that he was just trying to make a citizen’s arrest, but the judge nonetheless found him guilty of careless use of a firearm.