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ONTARIO: 400 Market robbery like a scene from Mission Impossible

'This isn’t a faceless corporation that some may find it hard to feel sorry for; these are families and folks who are just trying to get by,' says 400 Market general manager

BARRIE — The 400 Market was hit by a break-in and robbery this past Friday morning that saw a vendor lose thousands of dollars in jewelry and left the people there wondering who could have done this.

South Simcoe police were called to the Industrial Park Road building on Friday, Aug. 3 at approximately 8:30 a.m. after the over-night incident was discovered.

During investigation, it was discovered that the thieves gained entry by cutting a three-by-three-foot hole in the roof and using a rope to get down to the floor.

Scott Saunders, who is the 400 Market’s general manager, said despite the movie-like robbery happening at his establishment, he is not overly surprised.

“They came in like a Tom Cruise scene and avoided the infrared security for a bit until they tripped up something and had to rush out," Saunders told BarrieToday. "Fortunately, they were stopped before taking more.

"It's pretty crazy, but not really surprising when you realize that there are people out there who will go to any lengths to get what they want and through the internet have the information to do so," he added. "A 12-year-old could gain info on break-ins.”

The 400 Market is well secured with drive-by security keeping watch on the property, multiple locks and motion sensors and cameras everywhere, but Saunders says that this incident seems to have been very well planned and it's hard to be prepared when holes are being cut in the roof.

“We have skylights that are set with alarms and you always feel you’ve got enough security, but clearly we will attempt to get better at our next assessment,” said Saunders. “They came down through the ceiling and slid behind a tarped area before moving around, so again it was well planned and scouted.”

Jewelry, and particularly gold, is very moveable and are usually targeted by thieves.

Saunders knows that while the money lost obviously hits everyone hard, it’s the fact that it happens to hard-working people who are not rich just because of the wares they sell.

“The vendor who was hit during this has been here for 20-plus years and are a wonderful part of the fabric of the building,” he said. “Most vendors in here have full-time jobs all week and then to help supplement their income in these very expensive times they come here on the weekends and sell their merchandise.

"This isn’t a faceless corporation that some may find it hard to feel sorry for; these are families and folks who are just trying to get by.”

As usual during incidents such as this, theories start to come out by people who tend to not be in the know.

Saunders admits the first thing people go to in an elaborate scheme like this is that it was an inside job, but the 20-year market employee says there is an element that most aren’t aware of that may need to be considered as well.

“There is a gypsy-like element involved in a lot of these break-ins that some people don’t realize is happening,” he said. “The last robbery like this to happen to us was actually about 12 years ago as the antique mall beside us has been hit a couple times lately, but they rent from us and aren’t necessarily the same business, and if I were to guess other towns will be hot soon or next.

"There are people who make a living on this and go town to town scouting and breaking in for a big score; its sad but it’s the way of the world unfortunately," Saunders added. 

With approximately 8,000 people coming through the doors each weekend, the 400 Market is very much a desired tourist destination and, with over 400 vendors operating onsite, there is a lot of business happening every weekend.

Saunders says an evaluation will need to be redone and tons of paperwork sorted through, but the human element is there for him and that’s one of his main concerns right now.

“We are a community within a community,” he said. “Everyone in here knows each other and supports one another in not just a small-business or entrepreneur way, but in a family-type way. When one is robbed and hurting, we all are and we now need to pull together and support the folks who were hit.

"That said, we know our extended family, those who make this their go-to shopping experience, will be here on the weekend and showing the support they have had for over two decades.”



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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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