Burglar/Entrepreneur Breaks In, Holds Garage Sale

LTB default 777x437

Police in Sarnia, Ontario, said they had arrested the man who broke into a home there in June and then spent the day holding a garage sale in which he sold off the owner's property.

Tools for sale The homeowner, Greg Kemmis, was described as a "woodworking enthusiast" who had thousands of dollars worth of woodworking machinery and tools in the home.  The thief just moved a bunch of it outside and began trying to sell it.  Witnesses said he put up a sign saying "Tools for Sale," put price tags on the merchandise and ran the sale from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., then closed up shop and left with the proceeds at the end of the day.

At least some of those witnesses also got amazing deals during this special one-day-only, everything-must-go sale.  Kemmis estimated that the items sold were worth about $40,000, but clearly very deep discounts were being offered.  One patron said he bought a $3,000 piece of equipment for just $110, less than four percent of its value.  (If everything went for the same 96% discount, then the sale would have brought in about $1,500.)

Whether or not this particular buyer had any suspicions at the time, he did at least return the item after media reports about the incident.  At last report, only about ten percent of the items had been returned.  Because of the low, low prices and the media attention, "there's no doubt in my mind that [buyers] know that they have stolen property," said an officer assigned to the case.  He asked that buyers return the items and said that no one who did would be charged.  Kemmis said he was crossing his fingers because the stolen items were not insured.

As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that any of Greg Kemmis's neighbors noticed that somebody who wasn't Greg Kemmis was spending the day selling all of Greg Kemmis's stuff.  This happened on June 17, which was a Thursday, so it's possible that the neighbors were all at work.  It's also possible Kemmis had not been living in the neighborhood long and might not have met any of his neighbors yet. Or maybe this was one of the neighbors.  There's no evidence of that, either, but the thief must have known somehow that Kemmis would be gone all day (he was out of town).  It would be a bit awkward to have the owner show up in the middle of an unauthorized garage sale.

Anyone witnessing what appears to be illicit woodworking in the vicinity of Sarnia is asked to contact police.