October 26, 2021

High Gold

Its The Taste Of Gold

Charges laid in Simply Irie theft, police looking for another suspect

4 min read

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Calgary police have charged a 46-year-old man in connection to a break-in at a local Caribbean restaurant last month.

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Around 2 a.m. on Aug. 6, a man was caught on surveillance breaking the glass on the main door of the Simply Irie restaurant on 6th Street S.W.

The man reached through the door to unlock it, went into the restaurant, jumped across the countertop and yanked the cash register out before fleeing on a bicycle.

“Thanks to a number of tips from the public, he was identified. We wish to thank the public and the media for assisting us in providing some answers for the business owner who has dealt with at least three occurrences of theft this year,” police said in a news release.

“We believe more than one suspect is responsible for the thefts.”

Aaron Robert Varalta is charged with break and enter in relation to the Aug. 6 incident. He will next appear in court on Monday, Sept. 27.

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Police say they do not believe the most recent incident was hate-motivated, however, the restaurant has been the target of numerous other thefts of patio furniture and damage to the property since July.

On July 27, Calgary police released photos of another man who was caught on the restaurant’s surveillance stealing 10 patio chairs on July 9. The man is thought to be behind several other offences against Simply Irie, according to police, which caused thousands of dollars of damage to the restaurant’s patio.

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Calgary police have released this photo of a suspect who stole 10 patio chairs from the Simply Irie restaurant on 6th Street S.W. on early Friday, July 9, 2021.
Calgary police have released this photo of a suspect who stole 10 patio chairs from the Simply Irie restaurant on 6th Street S.W. on early Friday, July 9, 2021. Photo by CPS

City police said officers are investigating those incidents in consultation with the CPS hate crimes co-ordinator. The motive is not yet known, police say, “but the pattern is concerning.” No arrests have been made to date.

Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect from the July occurrences is asked to call police at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling 1-800-222-8477 or contacting www.calgarycrimestoppers.org.

Community has restaurant’s back

Simply Irie owner Fay Bruney said she felt a “sense of relief” when Calgary police let her know they had charged one of the suspects involved.

“I felt that love come up and just emotion that something finally is happening with all of this,” Bruney said. “I can see a bit through the fog now, a little ray of sunshine.”

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The restaurant was forced to shut down for a few days after the Aug. 6 incident, but business owners and community members stepped up for the restaurant again.

Cory Moench with POS Experts, who originally sold the restaurant its cash register, showed up with flowers and a new register after hearing about what happened, Bruney said. Awnings and More Inc. also gave the restaurant a significant discount for new security equipment as well, she said.

“I’ve been staying positive because the people I’m surrounded by have lifted me up. If I was negative in any of this, I would be hypocrite because these people have really, really come together to do everything they can to continue to inspire us to keep going.”

GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money and support for the Calgary restaurant. So far, the fundraiser has raised $14,520 of its $30,000 goal.

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