Coffee shop bandit? Police investigate break-ins at Leslieville cafes

Toronto police are investigating a series of break-ins at Leslieville coffee houses in recent weeks, which saw one small business lose more than $3,000.

Const. Craig Brister says it's unclear if the robberies are related

The owner of Ashdale Brunch and Espresso in Leslieville captured this security footage of a break-in at his shop on Dec. 23. (Edward Moilum)

Toronto police are investigating a series of break-ins at Leslieville coffee houses in recent weeks.

Te Aro and Ashdale Brunch and Espresso each lost about $200 in the robberies, but the manager of Lazy Daisy's Cafe on Gerrard Street East said a robber stole more than $3,000 when he or she broke in on Dec. 12.

Const. Craig Brister said that while there appear to be some similarities in the "smash-and-grab" style and the thief or thieves' targets, it's too soon to say whether the robberies are connected.

The major crime unit, however, has been looking for a possible connection between break-ins.

'Not an amateur'

The owner of Ashdale Brunch and Espresso told CBC Toronto that he believes the same person carried out the robberies. Edward Moilum has studied the security footage he captured of the suspect on Dec. 23, which shows a masked robber smash in the shop's front door before going directly to the cash box.

Although the cafe has a motion-detector alarm, Moilum said it did not go off. He said he believes that's because the robber capitalized on the fact that the security system filters out movement that's low to the ground, because it registers it as a pet.

"He knows enough that he's taking advantage of that flaw," Moilum said. "This is not an amateur."

Edward Moilum says a thief exploited a flaw in the security system so that the alarm did not go off. (CBC)

Brister recommended that businesses make small deposits throughout the day so that there are never large amounts of cash at the restaurant, nor are employees carrying much.

The constable also suggested that shops advertise the fact that they don't have any money in the till after closing.

"You don't have that temptation there, you're not leaving that liability lying around for someone to take advantage of."

With files from Greg Ross