Female joggers find 'creep' with wad of cash in park run-ins
Police taking close look at strange run-ins in park on Wellington Crescent
A series of strange incidents at two popular places for joggers and cyclists have caught the attention of Winnipeg police.
On four separate occasions in recent weeks, three women have encountered a black pouch on the ground spilling over with cash.
In each instance when the women stopped to inspect, a man on a bike appeared almost instantly. He asked them a quick question before snatching the pouch and riding away.
You don't have to be a police officer to know that there is just something that feels wrong about this.- Const. Rob Carver
The first occurrence known to CBC happened to Amory Steek about a month ago.
Steek was jogging down Wellington Crescent about a month ago when she made the discovery.
"I saw a black envelope with cash sticking out of it," said Steek, estimating there was "upwards of $5,000."
Just as she picked it up, a man in his 40s, with a medium build, immediately appeared on a bike and asked if she had found anything. Steek said "yes" and gave the man the envelope. He thanked her and left.
But the same set of bizarre circumstances happened to Steek again last week, this time near the gates of Assiniboine Park.
Once again, thousands of dollars in cash were sitting in an open envelope on the ground, and the same man showed up out of nowhere.
"There was money sticking out of it, and I bent down to pick it up, and when I stood up, the man on the bike was right in front of me," she said. "I just felt really strange. I thought it was too odd of a coincidence for this to happen twice."
Police have encouraged Steek to make a formal complaint.
"They said, '… it could be that he's luring women to attack them,' and I don't want that to happen to anyone," she said.
Const. Jason Michalyshen called the incidents "bizarre," saying, "Right now, we don't know what the intent of this individual is but because it's happened multiple times, I think it's important that the public be aware of it."
Steek posted the following warning on her Facebook page:
"Hi All, kind of a long story here but important for all you women out there! Twice now I have run into a man on wellington crescent who had lost a huge wad of cash. Each time I have found it he has been standing behind me - apparently this is a scam and he is trying to lure women to attack them. Please be careful and if you see a small black bag with a zippered top that is open with cash sticking out of it leave it, don't pick it up. I would guess he is somewhere between 45-55. Fair skin, freckles and both times he was wearing a baseball cap and glasses. Please share with other women you know, this guys is a creep!!!!!"
CBC News also spoke to a second woman, who asked not to be identified, who has reported a similar story to police.
While running in Assiniboine Park, she came across a wallet filled with cash, and a "scruffy" man in his 40s on a mountain bike claimed it seconds later.
She claimed the same thing happened to her sister in Assiniboine Park a few weeks ago, and that the run-ins took place between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. in the morning.
Police released a description of the man Wednesday morning. He's about five-foot-seven-inches tall with a slim build and grey, balding short hair. He had scruffy facial hair and in one instance was wearing khaki shorts and a striped polo shirt. In another, he was wearing a baseball hat and riding a dark bicycle.
"We are still looking to see if we can track down what is going on here," said Const. Rob Carver with the Winnipeg Police Service. "But I think anyone who hears this — you don't have to be a police officer to know that there is just something that feels wrong about this."
Carver said the incidents serve as a reminder to the public. People need to pay attention to their surroundings, stay in lit areas at night and report suspicious behaviour to investigators, he said.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police at 204-986-6222 or 911 if necessary.