'Disabled' Undercover Cop Waits For Robbers But Only Finds Kindness

September 27, 2016

There have been 28 violent offences on wheelchair-using folk in the city since January 2014, according to the Vancouver Police Department. So police staff sergeant Mark Horsley went undercover hoping to make at least one bust.

"It would have made his year, taking down one of the creeps responsible for assaulting and robbing disabled Vancouverites," the National Post reports.

Horsley borrowed an electric-powered wheelchair, grew some facial hair and wheeled into the drug-infested Downtown Eastside pretending to be disabled and brain-injured.

The operation didn't go quite as planned.

disabled cop waits for robbers gets kindness
Photo: Vancouver Police

"We wanted a serious assault or a robbery," he said. "That's all we were after." Instead, people approached with offers of sympathy and hope. Encouragement. Friendly cautions. They made unsolicited donations: food, other stuff, and $24 in spare change.

In five days of undercover work from his wheelchair, with loot hanging from a fanny pack for all to see and perhaps snatch, and after more than 300 contacts with people, Horsley made not a single arrest. People wanted to give him things, instead.

Passers-by insisted on dropping coins into his lap. "I did not panhandle," he said. Two men bought him pizza. Others just stopped and chatted, passed the time, exchanged pleasantries. All anyone took was his photograph.

Once, a guy came along and crouched over Horsley. He reached in, as if making for the fanny pack. Horsley tensed. Here it was, at last: Heinous crime in progress, bust coming up. The man's fingers touched the fanny pack. Then the prospective perp zippered it shut. He asked Horsley to please be more careful with his things, for goodness sake.

"At the end of it, we were $24 ahead of when we started."

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