According to the NIH, over 30 million people in Canada depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility. And unfortunately, not all of them meet the friendliest of people along the way.
One of the victims was sexually assaulted, and several others required medical attention.
So police staff sergeant Mark Horsley wanted to teach these bad guys a lesson that would send them directly to jail.
Working in conjunction with the VPD and rehabilitation specialists, Horsley decided to put a target on his own back. He grew some facial hair, changed his clothing, altered his speech, sat in an awkward posture, and cruised the sidewalks of Downtown Vancouver in a $16,000 electric-powered wheelchair.
His objective was to pretend to be disabled from a motorcycle accident. He planned on a five-day sting, attempting to entice (and capture) the bad guys by flashing cash and valuables.
Horsley made 300 contacts during this undercover operation. But it turns out the surprise was on him. Because their sting resulted in nothing but random acts of kindness.
People approached him with offers of encouragement and hope. Others just stopped and chatted with him, passing the time and exchanging pleasantries.
The closest Horsley came to an “attempted robbery” was when a stranger starting reaching for his fanny pack. Expecting to secure his first bust, Horsely got ready to give the take-down command to the other officers. But that’s when the prospective perp simply zippered it shut, and recommended to Horsley that he be more careful with his things.
What’s perhaps even more surprising is that Horsley was approached and told to take care of himself by known criminals. In his own words, “this demonstrated there really is ‘honor’ among certain thieves.”
While Horsley was disappointed they didn’t catch any bad guys, he concluded the undercover operation with a renewed sense of hope for the people who remind us why we should always continue our faith in humanity.
Special thanks to the National Post for some of the detaIls provided in this story.