By Alfa · Mar 6, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    The sign posted inside the door of the variety store said the shop was
    closed, and after peering inside the darkened interior, it was obvious
    it would not open again -- at least not under the proprietorship of
    its present owner.

    There did not seem to be much stock left. A few bags of chips hung
    from hooks, some nickel candy occupied jars by the window, and a few
    boxes of Blow Pops lollies were stacked on the counter next to a box
    of canned goods.

    Plus a dozen or so packs of cigarettes. And rolling

    A day later, however, the windows and door were totally blacked out,
    and the inventory presumably gone.

    The evening before, two men were inside, but refused to unlock the
    bolted door, or discuss how it came to be that the cops had busted the
    place for allegedly selling drugs to kids.

    One of the men -- long-haired and unshaven -- fit the description of
    the owner, but said he wasn't.

    It was a store that apparently kept odd hours. In the slim-margin
    financial world of corner stores, the key to any success at all is
    putting in long days, but this one didn't open until mid-afternoon,
    stayed open until five, and then reopened at 7 p.m., only to close
    again by nine.

    And this did not go unnoticed by the community-response cops working
    out of Scarborough's 41 Division, nor did the fact that a great many
    teens from nearby schools left the store having made no apparent purchase.

    No bag of chips, no chocolate bar, no Coke.

    It was a complaint from one of the local residents that put the store
    on the police radar screen and, according to Sgt. Tony Forchione, a
    search warrant was executed a week ago today, ending with the shop's
    owner being charged for allegedly selling more than just candy.

    "It's a first for me," said Forchione. "And I've been on the force for
    18 years."

    The other morning, a young blond woman in business attire came down
    the back stairs which lead to an apartment above the store, and
    identified herself as the new landlady of the property, having
    purchased it only three weeks ago.

    She would not provide any details regarding the bust, however,
    admitting only that it has been a "hell of a week" and that her tenant
    would soon be vacating the store.

    "He's not being evicted," she said. "Let's just say he's leaving

    And then she got into a grey Mercedes and drove away.

    "I'm late for a meeting," she said.

    At a nearby watering hole later that evening, a few parents of local
    teens admitted they had heard whispers regarding the store, with one
    man admitting that his 15-year-old son recently confessed to stealing
    some of his mother's jewelry in order to pay for some pot, but would
    not say where that pot had been purchased.

    Perhaps the boy's father should play a long shot and check out the
    stash of jewelry confiscated and catalogued by the police during the
    raid on the store. One just never knows.

    Longshots occasionally do pay off.

    According to Sgt. Forchione, more than $5,000 in assorted jewelry was
    seized at the corner store last Friday afternoon, leading to the owner
    being indicted with the charge of being in possession of property
    obtained by crime.

    And the crime being alleged, of course, was one of selling drugs --
    with many of the clients reportedly being local teenagers who came for
    pot, not pop.

    When the case finally makes its way to court, Sgt. Forchione and his
    crew will testify to finding 500 grams of marijuana divvied up into
    one-gram dime bags -- $10 per bag, with enough weed in each to roll a
    couple of joints -- that were under the shop's counter, "readily
    accessible for sale and ready to go," as Forchione put it.

    That adds up to the serious charge of possession for the purposes of

    According to police, some five grams of hashish were also seized that
    afternoon, along with a quantity of psilocybin, known to aficionados
    as magic mushrooms, and two prohibited weapons coming in the form of
    flick knives.

    A phone call was made to an address which police had as the store
    owner's place of residence, but the woman who answered said no such
    person lived there -- even though she corrected the pronunciation of
    his name.

    It was a dead-end street, so to speak, and so it was back to the store
    in a last-ditch effort to talk to the man who allegedly sold more than
    just candy from his Scarborough corner.

    But no one was minding the store on this day.

    The door not only remained locked, but now it was covered in black
    plastic sheeting, as was the shop's window.

    It made the sticker which had been slapped long ago on the shop's door
    stand out even more.

    "Stop it!" the message reads. "It's illegal to sell or give cigarettes
    -- even one -- to anyone under 19.

    "You will be fined."

    The only irony missing was a Neighbourhood Watch decal.

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