Hostage thefts helped alleged leader live it up

Among those arrested was a 24-year-old woman whose 5-year-old son was found sleeping in a vehicle that police allege was the getaway car, said Detective Sergeant Wilf Townley of Toronto's holdup squad. Police found a loaded .45-calibre automatic handgun. In raids late Saturday and Sunday, they found seven more weapons, plus ammunition, cash, drugs and evidence they said showed other robberies were planned.

The Toronto Star
March 24, 2004

Hostage thefts helped alleged leader live it up
Police say ‘egotist’ commanded gang of violent thieves. Families held while businesses were robbed.
Cal Millar

Police say a hostage-taking gang of robbers led by a man dubbed the H Factor has terrorized victims while netting hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past four months.

Officers arrested seven suspects Saturday night as they appeared to be preparing for a similar robbery at the Food Basics store in Markham's Royal Orchard Shopping Centre.

Among those arrested was a 24-year-old woman whose 5-year-old son was found sleeping in a vehicle that police allege was the getaway car, said Detective Sergeant Wilf Townley of Toronto's holdup squad.

Police found a loaded .45-calibre automatic handgun. In raids late Saturday and Sunday, they found seven more weapons, plus ammunition, cash, drugs and evidence they said showed other robberies were planned.

Police have linked the gang to robberies and hostage-takings in December at two Toronto Money Marts and a Jan. 10 heist at FKK Wholesale Kash and Karry on Caledonia Rd.

The gang is also said to have been involved in a Jan. 8 incident in which money was stolen from the family-operated Charlie's Meat and Seafood, on Skagway Ave., while family members were held hostage in their Stouffville home for 90 minutes.

Four alleged members of the gang were arrested Jan. 27 after holding a family hostage in their home while one of the victims was taken to his place of business, Weston Produce on Yonge St. in Richmond Hill, so the business could be robbed.

Police arrived while the four men were still inside, alerted by a friend who had been on the phone with a family member when the incident began. Now that the snow has melted, police have renewed their search for weapons the men are believed to have discarded while attempting to flee arrest.

The man believed to be their leader was driving back to the house after the robbery and spotted police on the scene. He managed to escape that time, but the incident sparked the launch of Project Menace, a joint investigation that led to last weekend's arrests.

Townley said the leader loved the high life and driving expensive vehicles, for which he paid in cash. He was a "god-like" character to gang members.

Townley described him as an "egotist" with "champagne tastes and beer pockets."

Charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery are Hasson Wilson, 36, Andrew Grant Proctor, 37, Vernon Alvin Borden, 34, and Michael Didow, 34, all of Toronto; Michael Max Douglas, 30, and Amanda Canning, 24, of Oakville; and Franklin Spates-Field, 38, of Thornhill. Proctor and Douglas also face weapons charges and Wilson is charged with armed robbery, forcible confinement and numerous firearm offences.


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