By Jesse Robitaille
It happened within the span of 30 seconds.
After arranging the sale of three gold bars for an unknown client over the phone, Jared Stapleton, the owner of Metro Coin and Banknote in Toronto’s west end, was robbed at gunpoint on Nov. 28. It’s estimated more than $10,000 worth of inventory was stolen amid the chaos.
A day earlier, the suspect called Stapleton to inquire about buying the gold bars, which he said was needed to make jewellery for his brother before an upcoming vacation.
The next day, the suspect visited Stapleton’s shop on Annette Street, just north north of Bloor West. The two discussed their deal for about15 minutes, and Stapleton asked for a 50 per cent deposit before making an invoice.
The suspect said he didn’t have enough cash on hand but would return with more money.
“That’s not untypical for the situation, when people are buying,” said Stapleton, who added it was a convincing story.
Forty minutes later, the suspect returned, and Stapleton buzzed him into the store.
“Out of nowhere, his friend held open the door and he proceeded to start running into the shop, pulled a gun out of his pocket and ran at me behind the counter,” said Stapleton, who opened Metro Coin and Banknote in 2013 following a lifelong interest in collecting coins and paper money.
“I just dropped to the ground and pushed the panic button.”
As the suspect was stealing inventory, Stapleton’s friend, who was working in the back of the store, came out amid the commotion.
The suspect was “surprised” to see another witness, said Stapleton, who’s the past president of the Canadian Paper Money Society.
“The friend went down on the ground and hit another panic button,” he added.
After his demands to open the safe were not met, the suspect continued to quickly steal inventory – having been in the store for less than half a minute at this point – before fleeing on foot.
It’s believed the suspects entered a car – possibly a white Acura – that was parked down the street.
Both Stapleton and his friend were unharmed.
Stapleton then called the police, who filed a report and retrieved a copy of the surveillance video. The forensic unit also attended the scene to take fingerprints during the hours-long initial investigation.
The investigation is active and ongoing, but there have been no updates from police by the time of printing.
“We are open for business,” Stapleton said.
He was unable to determine the exact amount of stolen inventory by the time of printing, which was only 24 hours after the incident.
“It was banknotes and bullion mainly, but also a few collector coins. He was mostly grabbing from our bullion counter.”
Canadian Association of Numismatic Dealers President Michael Findlay offered some advice following the Nov. 28 robbery.
“If you have a retail location or an office where you advertise access to the public, please carefully take an inventory of your security equipment and procedures. Do not leave a lot of valuables out on display. Do not leave valuables out of the safe or vault overnight or while you are away. Make sure your surveillance system has a remote back up. Consider a buzzer system or a double door entry way. Display prominent evidence that your location has alarm monitoring and active surveillance equipment. If you don’t know the person and/or if they look suspicious, do not let them in,” said Findlay.
“Most importantly, be vigilant and careful. This type of crime is only going to get more frequent.”