toronto robberies

Toronto business out $50K after same couple breaks into string of rental shops

A rotund woman in Yeezys and a man who appears to like camo print have been striking fear into members of Toronto's booming camera rental industry by showing up late at night to smash windows and steal incredibly expensive filming equipment.

At least three local production rental shops have been robbed in recent weeks, according to Conor Hildebrandt of Viva Camera in Etobicoke, by what appears to be the exact same couple, using the exact same vehicle (a black 2020-2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport with a covered-up licence plate.)

Security footage shared by Hildebrandt with blogTO shows a male repeatedly tossing what looks like a large rock into the window of the storefront on Jan. 27, around 6:50 a.m., throwing the rock again and again until the glass eventually shatters.

Another clip from inside the store at 777 The Queensway shows the man filling up a box with all of the cameras and lenses he can find. Snow blows across the frame, as the valuable equipment is now directly exposed to the outdoors.

"From our business, about $50,000 dollars was taken," says Hildebrandt. "A major piece of that was our brand new, $34,000 dollar RED V-Raptor cinema camera."

A few days later, on Feb. 1, another film equipment rental shop just down the road (Ontario Camera at 20 Torlake Cresecent) was hit by what appeared to be the same people around 4:30 a.m.

Hildebrandt connected with staff at Ontario Camera and eventually learned that another video equipment supplier (DV Shop at 3422 Dundas St. W.) had been robbed by suspects matching the same description a few weeks previous, around 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2023.

After comparing photo and video footage, the business operators came to the conclusion that the same duo had robbed all of them.

"It's the exact same vehicle, and the male is wearing the exact same outfit in both breaks. It's a newer and slightly rarer vehicle, so we're hopeful the police can track them down," says Hildebrandt.

"We've been in touch with DVShop and Ontario Camera and shared all our footage and pics to do anything we can to find these people. The Toronto creative community has also been amazing. Sharing all our social posts and getting it in front of thousands of eyes."

Toronto Police have yet to respond to a request for comment on the rash of robberies, but Hildebrandt tells blogTO that a dedicated special constable from the major crime unit has been assigned to the case.

"Police reports were filed; they've been super helpful," he says of the police service. "They think these break-ins and a few others are all linked, so they're trying really hard to find these people."

This is far from the first spree of its kind we've seen in Toronto over the past few years; geographically-isolated rashes of break-ins and vandalism seem to be breaking out more often in the city as thieves target restaurants, convenience stores, clothing boutiques, and even cars in parking garages.

"Our insurance told us that people are getting more and more brazen and bold and breaking into anything and everything to make a buck," said Hildebrandt. "Camera equipment is generally pretty expensive and hard to track, so I get why they're targeting places like this."

The video production professional wants other creatives and small business owners to know that "you can't be too safe right now."

"I know times are tough and desperate people will do desperate things, so keep your head on a swivel!" he says. "Install that extra security camera, lock all your interior doors and equipment cages. And be on the lookout for suspicious drive-bys and customers."

Lead photo by

Conor Hildebrandt

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