Caught up in long-distance charges
Inuvik man victim by association in phone fraud raid

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

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INUVIK (Feb 03/97) - An Inuvik restaurateur who came home last Tuesday night to find his front door smashed and $1,500 missing was surprised to learn police were responsible.

Jack Zhou, who operates the Midnight Sun Food Garden, told News/North the door of his home on Kugmallit Road was bent and twisted, as if a crowbar had been used to wrench it open.

Inside, two suitcases and a bag filled with personal items were missing, including his passport and cash from his restaurant.

Zhou contacted RCMP immediately, only to learn his home was searched as part of last week's round-up of suspects and evidence in the long-distance fraud investigation.

More than a dozen Inuvik residences were reportedly searched and at least one other home may have been searched by accident.

Curiously, Zhou doesn't even own a phone, "and I never make long-distance calls," he said.

Inuvik RCMP Const. Richard Crooks refused to comment on the matter, referring all questions to Yellowknife, where the investigation is centred.

In Yellowknife, Sgt. Dave Grundy called the Zhou incident an unavoidable consequence of sharing living accommodations with someone under investigation. He said he knows of no mistaken searches.

"That situation, with Mr. Zhou, has been resolved and was dealt with as quickly as possible," said Grundy.

Police have since returned Zhou's cash and effects, but only after they had been flown to Yellowknife for study. Zhou said he resents getting involved in the first place and suspects police were looking for his roommate.

"The RCMP's job is to hit the no-good people and take care of the nice people," said Zhou.

What makes him most angry is that police apparently didn't even know who lived in the house -- they just searched it and seized anything allowed by the warrant.

Legal experts consulted by News/North said the police acted within the law.