Jewellery store heist foiled in Forest Hill

Police find pellet gun on suspects accused in robbery attempt


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Jewellery by Varouj, at 515 Eglinton Ave. W., is located a few doors east of the marijuana dispensary

Two men were arrested after attempting to rob a jewellery store on Eglinton Avenue West near Avenue Road last month. 

Varouj Tabakian has owned and operated Jewellery by Varouj at 515 Eglinton Ave. W. for 22 years and said he is very cautious about who he lets enter his store. To gain access, patrons must ring a bell before being buzzed in by either himself or an employee.

But when a man tried to enter the shop at 4:15 p.m. on April 8, Tabakian would not open his doors to him. “Usually, we are very selective. I didn’t like the way he looked. I told him no,” he said. 

According to Tabakian, the man then tried to enter the shop using force. He returned with another man, and one of them proceeded to cover his face and shake the door. 

“I decided to call 911, and we pushed our panic buttons,” said Tabakian. “I was afraid, [I thought] maybe he does have a gun in his pocket.”

Constable Craig Brister, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service (TPS), said two male suspects, 21 and 22 years old, were arrested and charged with robbery and use of an imitation firearm during commission of an offence. A black pellet gun was found in their possession. One man was also charged with disguise with intent. 

According to Sheliza Esmail, of the Eglinton Way business improvement area (BIA), patrons dining at Duckee were asked to remain inside the restaurant for three hours that night.

“The police had closed down the street for the investigation, and they asked everyone to remain inside,” she said. 

There was initially some confusion as to where the attempted robbery had actually taken place. Esmail said some local residents assumed the robbery occurred at Canna Clinic, the marijuana dispensary a few doors down from Varouj, as it was the target of another armed robbery earlier this year. 

However, Brister said the TPS did not include Canna Clinic anywhere in their report.

Tabakian said he still blames the dispensary for the kind of people it is attracting to the neighbourhood. 

Michael McLellan, the spokesperson for the Toronto Dispensaries Coalition, disagreed with the insinuation.

“Dispensaries bring additional foot traffic to a shopping area and people from all walks of life with disposable income,” he said. “It would seem to be a stretch to blame a nearby store, whether a dispensary or another type of business, for a store being robbed.”

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