Super-thief Blanchard has parole revoked

Gerald Blanchard's parole was revoked when authorities suspected he was again engaging in fraudulent activities.
Gerald Blanchard is back behind bars after having his parole revoked. ((CBC))
A criminal mastermind who organized an international fraud and theft ring that stole millions from banks and financial institutions around the world is back behind bars.

Former Winnipegger Gerald Blanchard pleaded guilty in 2007 to a long list of crimes including international identity theft and robberies at financial institutions in Alberta, Manitoba, and B.C. — including the Alberta Treasury Branch — which netted him millions of dollars. He was a suspect in an Egyptian bank fraud, landing him on the radar of Interpol and the FBI.

Released on day parole and living in a halfway house in Vancouver since late 2009, Blanchard said he was grooming himself for a new career as a security consultant.

But CBC News has learned that in July, Blanchard's parole was revoked when authorities suspected he was again engaging in criminal activity. His parole file shows he was seen with some of his former accomplices. It is noted that authorities who searched his room at the halfway house found a myriad of electronic devices including a hidden cell phone, SIM cards for cell phones, computer USB drives, express postage labels, and 33 bank deposit envelopes for two different banks. Blanchard also had a pen with audio/video capabilities, and a device that changes voice patterns on the telephone along with an electronic card that redirects phone calls.

Blanchard was once described by Canadian police as one of the most sophisticated criminals they had ever dealt with.

The Sisi Star, a diamond-and-pearl hairpin once worn by the Empress of Austria, was found in the Winnipeg home of one of Blanchard's relatives. (CBC)
In one audacious theft, he posed as a tourist in a Vienna castle before swiping the priceless Star of the Empress Sisi from an encased display — leaving a gift-shop replica in its place.

He faced more than 40 charges when police caught up with him in 2007. He eventually pleaded guilty to 16 of those charges in a Winnipeg court and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Blanchard lived a jet-set lifestyle under several assumed identities, using elaborate disguises and high-tech surveillance equipment to empty cash machines from banks around the world. 

Blanchard's parole will once again be reviewed in June 2011.