The Salvation Army in the Canadian city of Toronto ran a toy collection for underprivileged children. It had such support that even the Ontario Province Premier, Dalton McGuinty, personally donated two bicycles. Eventually, $2 million worth of toys were donated and stored in the Salvation Army central warehouse, on Railside Rd. in Toronto’s north end. There were about 100,000 toys.
The Executive Director of Toronto Salvation Army, David Rennie, was taken into police custody, and fired by the Salvation Army. The reason? He had stolen the toys. The Salvos only found out about it through a whistleblower, after two years.
Local media reported that police raided warehouses and retail stores across the Greater Toronto Area, recovering more than 150 skids of the missing toys – enough to fill three tractor-trailers (B doubles in Australia). Among the items recovered at one warehouse were the two bikes donated to the Salvation Army by Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Clearly, Toronto police were shocked at the scale of the toy heist. Detective Robert Strain said that “The volume was beyond our imagination. We’re alleging the thefts took place under David Rennie’s control.” Detective Sergeant Gotell said that “In my 23 years with Toronto police I haven’t seen anything like this magnitude before.”
Later, police also arrested Rennie’s common law partner, Xiao “Diane” Wang, who shared a 29th floor penthouse apartment with him. She was a certified accountant. Police also arrested 61-year-old Umaish Ramrattan.
A company registered in Ramrattan’s name, Northern Sales Group, and headquartered at a warehouse in North York, has been named by police in connection to the thefts. Northern Sales Group owned the warehouse where the toys had been stored for the Salvation Army, and other warehouses where the stolen toys were located.
Fortunately for the poor kids, a conscience-stricken whistle-blower existed in the Salvation Army’s ranks. Commenting on the Salvation Army’s lack of inventory control, Salvation Army Major John Murray asserted that “we will do everything in our power to ensure that something like this never happens again.”
Rennie was paid a salary of $111,215 in 2011 and is the proud owner of a 2009 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic motorcycle. He had been declared bankrupt in 2001, but the Salvation Army employed him anyway to run its warehouse and distribution network, while still a bankrupt because this was not part of their employment checking process.
Previously, in May 2008, a blaze tore through the same Salvation Army warehouse, destroying all of the stock. Rennie had been employed as a financial, stock-control and distribution consultant at the time. The Salvation Army kept him on to oversee the rebuilding of the warehouse from the ground up, promoting him to the position of executive director for Toronto.
Let’s hope that the Australian Salvation Army trains its people in the fundamentals of inventory control a little better.
[Postscript: Sherman, Texas – Salvation Army Captain David Grigsbay was arrested for drug possession. Local police said that they found crack cocaine in his possession and they were able to determine that he had been using the crack cocaine prior to their arrival. Local media report that “There is no word yet on whether Captain Grigsbay will be asked to resign.”]
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Image: David Rennie – Executive Director, Toronto – Salvation Army (Source: Salvation Army)
Image: Salvation Army Major John Murray at a news conference with some of the recovered toys (Source: thechronicleherald.ca)
TOMORROW: The Australian Salvation Army’s finances
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)