Rooftop break-in on cam

Rob Gibson

Another downtown business has been broken into in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Tonics and Yamas, adjacent restaurants on Ellis Street, were the victims of a well-planned break-in which originated in the back alley behind the establishments. The suspect was caught on Castanet surveillance video climbing the pipes on the way to the roof at 3:26 a.m. Once on the roof, he worked his way through the ventilation system before dropping down into the kitchen right above the deep fryers.

Owner Tony Pantazopoulos tells Castanet, "he must have been very small to make it through the pipes." He also would have been covered in grease.  

The suspect can be seen unloading tools from a backpack before grabbing and spraying the surveillance camera in the kitchen.

Pantazopoulos says there is no alarm system in the kitchen and it's likely he used hot sauce or some other kitchen sauce to spray the cameras. The surveillance footage is very dark but the suspect is wearing a light on his head and was carrying tools, including a crowbar and a hammer, as well as a change of clothes.

After a few minutes of investigating the suspect can be seen entering the main bar restaurant area of Tonics. By this time, Pantazopoulos tells Castanet the alarm had been triggered and would have been very loud inside the building. After spending several minutes investigating, the suspect can be seen honing in on a secondary till with a small amount of money inside. Once he determines he cannot open the till he produces a hammer and begins to smash the till and monitor before leaving the bar area.

"He was looking I guess for money because thats all he took," Pantazopoulos said. "He smashed the till, I don't know what was in the till, probably the float. I have to find out."

The suspect also broke into the liquor storage room but he didn't take anything. He changed his clothes and broke the lock on the back door. Once the door was opened, he went back into the restaurant for some reason, before exiting the building and walking over to the dumpster and throwing something into it.

It would have been the perfect crime, other than not getting anything of value and then being caught on Castanet surveillance cameras once outside.

The exterior surveillance video clearly shows other individuals in the vicinity before and after the crime takes place, including one man on a bicycle carrying a bag.

A blue van can be seen pulling into the parking lot behind the restaurant at 4:17 a.m. and one man, whose face is clearly identifiable, can be seen, before the suspect makes a brief appearance. That man's face can also be seen. The suspect disappears from the camera's sight before re-entering the frame and jumping into the van, which then takes off with the side door open. It heads down the alley towards Pandosy Street.

Police arrived a short time later and searched the scene for evidence but they told Pantazopoulos the suspect was wearing gloves.

Forensic investigators were brought in to examine the scene for physical evidence.

"Early findings suggest that the suspect may have gained access into the establishment through the roof’s ventilation system," said Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey.
The suspect was wearing a hoodie, a red hat, a headlamp, a pair of gloves and a pair of dark-coloured pants.

Pantazopoulos says the business has been downtown for 15 years, and this is the second time something like this has happened.  Nothing too valuable appears to have been taken but Pantazopoulos puts the initial damage in the $10,000 dollar range.

Tonics and Yamas reopened Thursday afternoon once clean-up and repairs were completed.

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