Hamilton

A suitcase full of leeches? Hamilton's weirdest crime stories of 2019

From stolen wheels to smuggled leeches, here's a look at some of the strangest illegal things that happened in Hamilton and the surrounding area over the past year.

Never try to sell fake gold to a real cop

Here are some of the strangest crime stories from Hamilton and the surrounding area. (Shutterstock/Monika Gruszewicz)

Have you heard the one about the fraudster who tried to sell fake gold jewelry to a real police officer?

How about the guy who tried to smuggle a suitcase full of leeches across the border?

In the spirit of looking back on the year that was, we've put together a list of some of the weirdest crime stories of 2019. From stolen wheels to burning porta potties, here's a look at some of the strangest things that happened in Hamilton and the surrounding area.

Why not rent a truck?

It's one thing to roll down your windows to catch a breeze as you drive.

It's quite another to roll down the highway with both back doors wide open and construction materials poking out into adjoining lanes.

A video showing a driver carting a load of wood on the QEW near the Red Hill Valley Parkway quickly spread online back in May.

Warning: video contains coarse language

Investigators quickly started connecting the dots and just a few days later a man and woman were arrested in connection with a series of break and enters.

249 emergency calls lead to charge

A chronic 911 caller was eventually charged in January after police said he phoned the emergency number 249 times in a year.

Every time a dispatcher picked up, the 33-year-old would stay silent then hang up, according to investigators.

He was charged with providing false information and the police issued a media release reminding the public that non-emergency calls to 911 take up valuable resources and could delay a response to someone who is actually in danger.

Raccoons, parent complaints among Norfolk 911 calls

Provincial police in Norfolk County had 911 issues of their own. The OPP issued media release after media release pleading with the public to please stop calling them about incidents that were anything but an emergency.

Over the course of the year residents dialled the emergency number to report everything from raccoons in their yard and barking dogs to kids complaining about parents asking them to clean their room or telling them to stop playing video games.

Dozens of porta potties go up in flames

It was a number one — or maybe number two — priority call.

About 30 porta potties burned behind Pitton Plumbing and Heating on Rennie Street back in March. Damage was estimated at $100,000.

Police said they were investigating the fire as suspicious and asked anyone who caught wind of what might have caused it to contact them.

Stolen wheels at GO stations

Imagine getting off the train or bus from work and finding your vehicle up on blocks with all four wheels nowhere to be seen.

That scene played out for drivers along the Lakeshore West route earlier this year when commuters were hit by a rash of wheel thefts.

On Sept. 18 a Brantford man was arrested in connection with the thefts and faced charges including 13 counts of theft under $5,000 and 13 counts of mischief to property.

A Reddit user posted this photo of a pickup left on blocks after its tires and rims were stolen at the Aldershot GO station. (phirleh/Reddit)

That's gotta sting

A man who allegedly used pepper spray while trying to steal someone's cell phone back in March later called 911 in an effort to pass himself off as the victim of a robbery.

The stinging spray was reportedly deployed when two men met up after discussing a deal for a phone that was for sale on Kijiji.

Police say the seller handed over the phone and the "buyer" tried to jump out of the car and run off without paying

When the seller grabbed him he turned and used pepper spray before running off.

The only problem was, his wallet was left behind in the car.

"A short time later he contacted police to claim he was a victim of a robbery where he was sprayed by an irritant and had lost his wallet while fleeing," police said at the time.

Investigators tracked the 19-year-old down and arrested him.

Man tries to smuggle 5K leeches in suitcase

A Niagara Falls man was fined $15,000 after he was caught flying into Canada with a suitcase full of leeches — 4,788 live, medicinal leeches to be exact.

A dog working with border agents managed to sniff out the leeches though and they were sent to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

Along with the fine, the man who tried to smuggle the leeches in was banned for a year from importing, exporting and possessing any animals regulated through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

A Niagara Falls, Ont., man pleaded guilty to smuggling about 5,000 leeches in his luggage. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Fraudster tries to sell fake gold to a real police officer

A Toronto man found out the hard way this March that the customer is not always right.

The 29-year-old was charged with fraud under $5,000 after trying to sell an off-duty Hamilton police officer some costume jewelry he claimed was solid gold.

Police say the man said he was offering 10-karat gold jewelry for $300 saying he needed money to buy gas.

After he was taken into custody, police said they determined the true value was between $2 and $10.

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