Elaborate tunnel full of stolen goods discovered in Calgary man's backyard
Police looking to reunite $100K in stolen merchandise with rightful owners after uncovering underground trove
Calgary police have recovered an estimated $100,000 in stolen property from a man they allege broke into numerous homes and stored his ill-gotten goods in a hidden tunnel that stretched 10 metres underground.
Officers have charged a 50-year-old man with 15 counts of breaking and entering and one count of possessing break-and-enter tools after executing a search warrant in 200 block of Queen Charlotte Way S.E. back on March 17.
Police are now going about the significant task of reuniting the mass of merchandise with the rightful owners.
The recovered items include bicycles, tools, electronics, and sporting goods.
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Five firearms along with ammunition were also found at the man's residence, where officers discovered an underground tunnel that stretched below his backyard, complete with reinforced walls and lighting.
Staff Sgt. David Sweeting said the entrance to the tunnel was hidden underneath a portable shed and he had never seen anything quite like it in his 36 years of policing.
"The utility lines went through the tunnel as well, so they were doing it with hand tools of some type, because they didn't damage the utility lines," Sweeting said.
A police tactical team executed the search and officers are continuing to investigate potentially related break and enters in both Calgary and communities south of the city, which may include other suspects.
Investigators believe the Calgary suspect made his way into homes by forcing entry through basement windows and by prying open overhead garage doors in order to access the emergency, manual-release mechanism.
Some of the merchandise was sold on Kijiji, Sweeting said, and some of the recovered items have already been returned to their original owners.
The remainder of the recovered property has been catalogued and police have set up an online photo gallery in order to help connect owners with their goods.
A dedicated email address for property owners, firstname.lastname@example.org, has also been set up and will remain open until May 14.
A dumpster full of building materials and other items sat outside the Queensland home identified by neighbours as the site of the underground stash, while the earth in the home's backyard appeared heavily disturbed.
with files from Evelyne Asselin