Hardware bandit gets four months
Thief banned from Canadian Tire

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 04/97) - A shop-to-order thief who was cleaning out the Canadian Tire store bit by bit is behind bars.

Eric Paul Cooper had a penchant for big-ticket items, such as a $649 mitre saw and a generator worth a cent short of a thousand dollars.

His repeated visits to the Yellowknife store also saw him rip off four chain saws.

He was finally nabbed on March 13 by RCMP following a two-month investigation into the one-man crime wave.

Last week in territorial court Judge Brian Bruser sentenced Cooper to six months in jail for theft.

Two of those months were for two meat-hunting expeditions Cooper made to the downtown Extra Foods in January and February. He was caught making off with meat worth a total almost $200.

Crown prosecutor Ula Arvanetes told court that Cooper, 36, would go to a bar and take orders for the Canadian Tire goods.

He knew that he could get $150 to $300 for expensive items. When cashiers were busy, he would slip past them.

Cooper has a criminal record of 21 previous convictions, including crimes of violence, leaving the scene of an accident, six drug offences, three other driving offences, plus six thefts.

He blames his problems for having a Newfoundland accent and growing up in Alberta after age 16, where he didn't fit into school because of the way he spoke.

This led to drug and alcohol problems and a cycle of being employed or out of a job. He said he stole the food because he had no job and no money.

Cooper read a letter to the court that he had written, saying he had a Christian upbringing but lacked self-esteem.

When he was arrested, police had little evidence on him but he chose to make a full confession of Canadian Tire activities.

Bruser wished him luck on the road to recovery, but banned him from Canadian Tire stores across the country and ordered him to pay the store $3,169.94.