By Dosi Cotroneo
Fear is spreading like wildfire across the city as over 20 women (many of them Italian nonnas), have become the target of a ring of jewel theives on the hunt for Italian gold necklaces. Since the beginning of August, over 20 cases have been reported to the Ottawa Police and police are warning residents to take extra care when out walking alone, and to leave their jewelry at home.
The scenario seems to be playing out the same way over and over again. An elderly woman is stopped and asked for directions, often approached by two women. The women then proceed to try to sell them a gold necklace, or offer one as a gift of thanks. After coercing their victims to just try the necklace on, they place their gold necklace on the victim, and then remove the victim’s own necklace without the victim even noticing. According to Ottawa Police, in most cases, the suspects left the scene before the victims noticed that they had been robbed.
In some cases, a man in a vehicle was seen picking up and dropping off the two suspects.
To date thefts have taken place at Herongate Mall, the Villa Marconi long-term care facility on Baseline Road, Montfort Hospital, the Esso Gas Station on Prince of Wales Drive, the Meadowlands/Claymore neighbourhood, and by Westboro Transitway.
In late September, an elderly Italian nonna was minding her own business waiting to catch a bus when she was approached by two women, one of whom spoke fluent Italian. Before the victim could take notice, the brazen thief had made off with not only her necklace, but also her watch.
This episode happened in the city’s west end Churchill neighbourhood. In another instance, an elderly Italian woman was approached right at the end of her driveway just off of Meadowlands Drive, and asked for directions to the nearest MacDonald’s. Not suspecting anything strange, particularly since there were two couples in the vehicle and a young child in a car seat, she complied. Again, the same tactic were used and the thieves thanked her, had her try on this “gift of a gold necklace”, while making off with her own gold necklace she had for over 50 years. A landscape contractor working in the same vicinity was approached by a couple of men wanting to sell him jewelry. When he told him he was not interested, they drove off before he could get a license plate number.
The first suspect is described by police as a 25 to 30-year-old South Asian, Middle Eastern or Hispanic woman with tanned skin. She spoke English with an accent. The second suspect is described as a 50 to 60-year-old South Asian, Middle Eastern or Hispanic woman with tanned skin. She also spoke English with an accent, police said. Police said the man involved has been spotted in different vehicles, either a dark four-door sedan or a white, gold or dark minivan.
Anyone approached by people wanting to sell a gold necklace or other jewelry are asked to say no and call police immediately at (613) 230-6211. Anyone with information on the thefts are asked to call Ottawa police at (613) 236-1222 ext. 3566 (for the east division),
ext. 2266 (for the west division) or ext. 5166 (for central division).