It takes a special kind of coward to rob someone in a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, the city of Vancouver isn’t exactly a stranger to this kind of crime. Since January 2014, there have been 28 violent offences against people in wheelchairs, which is why Vancouver police staff sergeant Mark Horsley wanted noting more than to bust one of those crooks for good.
His plan: borrow an electric-powered wheelchair, look vulnerable and roll into the downtown east side (DTES), where two-thirds of these crimes occur.
“My boss tied a pork chop around my neck and threw me into a shark tank,” Horsley recalled Thursday at Vancouver police headquarters.
There was only one problem with the plan: There didn’t seem to be any sharks in the tank.
Instead of being robbed or accosted, Horsley was shocked when people approached with offers of hope and compassion, donations of food and even $24 in spare change. The funny part is, he wasn’t even panhandling. People were literally just dropping coins into his lap as they passed by; two men even brought him a pizza, according to the National Post.
“People would get down on my level, they would talk to me,” Horsley said. “They were very polite, very courteous, often asking if I had someone to care for me — if I had some place to go.”
Even criminals who were known to police would approach Horsley, telling him to take care, demonstrating that there really is “honour” among some thieves.
“They still wouldn’t stoop as low as to rob somebody who was that vulnerable,” the officer said.
After five days of undercover work and 300 civilian encounters, Horsley did have one tense moment, however. One man approached and crouched over the undercover officer, as if reaching in to swipe his fanny pack. But when the suspect’s fingers touched it, the man quickly zippered it shut and reminded Horsley to be more careful with his things.
Horsley admitted that after pouring so much effort into the sting operation, he was a little disappointed to not take even one crook off the street. Nonetheless, the actions of the community left him inspired.
It just goes to show, Canadians really are the nicest people on Earth.