Bumbling Burglars Star In Flamingo Vaper Caper

The thieves assumed they would escape unnoticed from their poorly executed, albeit destructive, smash and grab burglary of Flamingo Vape.

Maybe they recalled that a string of 2017 Winnipeg vape shop break-ins inflicted tens of thousands of dollars in damage and has largely been forgotten, except by the victims. Perhaps, they are even responsible for one or more these crimes. One thread runs through all of the Winnipeg vape store break-ins described below: a wanton destruction of property that did not add to the burglar's pile of loot.

The burglars gained easy access to the Flamingo Vape at 1 am on March 11, 2018 and were gone just minutes later. But any hope they had that a burglary in Canada’s most violent city would soon be forgotten have since been dashed.

Flamingo Vape Viral Video

Thanks to Flamingo Vape’s humorous and scornful narration of the burglary footage, the exploits of these incompetent criminals has attracted worldwide attention. Will social media exposure help crack the case? At the very least, the high resolution footage and fiery dismissal of their thieving skills guarantees that these two buffoons will continue to receive the ridicule and contempt that they deserve. Here is hoping they do not remain anonymous much longer.  

Make sure you check out Flamingo Vape Shop video on YouTube. It was described by Vice as 2019’s best comedy film. The two person burglary team is thought to have consisted of a man and woman. There may be a shadow at the 25 second mark of a third party outside of the door. If you have any information on the burglars, there is $2,000 reward.

The woman’s face was concealed and she was clothed head to toe in black, except for a pair of jaunty blue gloves. But identifying her may be easier than she thought possible. Her height has been estimated at 5’6 to 5’8, above average but not exceptional. But she has a very distinctive knock-kneed gait and may weigh in excess of 300 lbs.

We are body positive here, and I will refrain from taking any weight related cheap shots that rhyme with "cat burglar". Instead, I will compliment her for her choice of practical Ugg boots. Sartorial flair is important when violently gaining entry to a private business in order to loot their inventory.

The gender of the second thief was more difficult to determine due to the layers of clothing and baggy high visibility coat. There were some subtle indicators which suggest that the second burglar was male. In one shot it is clear that he has a pale complexion, dark eye brows and has been estimated at 5’10 to 6 feet tall and 230 lbs. The ethnicity of the perpetrators has yet to be determined.

But it is time for some straight talk and nabbing these perps. Provided that woman did not wear extra padding as a disguise, which seems unlikely considering they did not even bring a bag to carry their stolen goods, her body mass index makes her a statistical outlier and eliminates a substantial percentage of the population from consideration. It is also possible that the "man" is another woman with an ankle sock stuffed in her pants. But this assumes facts not in evidence. For now, all we have is the tape and hope the police have more to go on.

I would not draw any conclusions from the use of a sledgehammer by the female burglar. This is probably not a tool from her day job. She lacked the skill to wield it properly, and the commonsense to realize a regular hammer would have been better suited for her purposes. Steel driving heroes like John Henry and sledgehammer wielding heels like Triple H have nothing to worry about.  

Flamingo Vaper Caper

The ease with which the criminals gained entry to the store was undermined by a singular lack of focus. Their failure to obtain more items of value can be attributed to a number of unorthodox techniques that they adopted. For example, they did not bring a garbage bag or any sort of satchel to carry their loot in.

The women attempted to store her stolen items in a trash can with no bottom. Watching the stolen items drop through the container to the floor added a cartoonish flair to the otherwise unpleasant footage of an after-hours crime spree.

The man stole an Acer laptop but not the charger cord, even though the cord was affixed to the computer when he first grabbed it. The woman initially focused on empty display boxes. The man fixated on the counter display with zero nicotine tester bottles and old tanks.

Winnipeg Property Crimes: No Laughing Matter

It is easy to find amusement by observing the incompetence of criminals. And the effectiveness of Flamingo Vape’s YouTube video will draw a lot of eyeballs to the crime footage and probably lead to the apprehension of these cretins. Here is a list of the items they stole:

String of Vape Store Break-ins Winnipeg

Winnipeg has endured a spike in property crimes over the last several years, including a 21 percent increase between 2017 and 2018. In total, there were over 40,000 property crimes in Winnipeg in 2018. This startling number has been blamed on the meth and opioid epidemics. The city of 800,000 has secured a dubious distinction: Canada’s crime capital. Similar to other large North American cities, Winnipeg’s crime rate has been slashed dramatically from its peak 20 or more years ago, but recent increases have left citizens concerned.

In a big city environment, even blatant crime sprees like the 2017 string of vape shop burglaries are quickly forgotten. Small business owners are victims who face financial ruin, but the public at large turns their attention elsewhere.

With over 300,000 views on YouTube as of the writing of this column and a reward of $2,000, the Flamingo Vape break-in is more likely to be solved than the similar incidents at Fat Panda, Vape Haven and Cold Turkey in Winnipeg, even those these locations were hit multiple times and at multiple branches in some cases. We hope this video leads to those cases being solved as well.

Winnipeg Vape Store Burglaries Linked?

It is still unclear if the 2017 string of vape shop burglaries is related to the recent Flamingo Vape break-in. I was unable to locate security camera footage of the 2017 crimes online, and cameras were not present during several of the incidents. The vape shops that were burglarized beefed up their security systems after the fact, but the lack of news footage makes it difficult to draw conclusions.

But it must be noted that the Fat Panda burglary on St. Anne’s road is only a 10 minute highway drive due east from Flamingo Vape shop and Vape Haven is 10 minute straight shot north on Pembina Highway.

In our eagerness to catch this not so dynamic duo, let us not forget about the 2017 vape shop break-ins. The Winnipeg Free Press covered these incidents at the time and hopefully investigators will take a fresh look at the cases outlined below after the high profile Flamingo Vaper Caper.

If it turns out these nincompoops are responsible for other break-ins, the humor of the video may diminish some but the Schadenfreude from their eventual apprehension will be off the charts.

Multiple Fat Panda Vape Shops Burglarized

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Fat Panda shop on St. Anne's was robbed when a black SUV rammed through their front windows.

On Wednesday June 29 at 2:30am, a black SUV rammed through the front window of the Fat Panda Vape shop on St. Anne’s road. The thieves inflicted $10,000 in property damage and an undisclosed quantity of vape kits and equipment.

An hour after that break-in, the reinforced door of Fat Panda’s Portage Avenue location was smashed open with a sledgehammer and an additional $10,000 in damage was incurred at that location as well.  Fat Panda director Nelson DeClerq placed the total inventory stolen at “tens of thousands of dollars”.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Fat Panda shop on St. Anne's was robbed when a black SUV rammed through their front windows. Here store manager Jayson Saltel holds the front bumper of what may be the suspect vehicle used in the robbery. A passerby found the bumper nearby.

Cold Turkey Vape Shop Hit Four Times In One Week

The same week that Fat Panda was hit, Cold Turkey Vape Shop was hit a total of four times. Their Edmonton Street location in Winnipeg was hit three times and its St Vital store once.

On June 26, 2017, employees arrived in the morning to find the window at the Edmonton Street location had been smashed. It was boarded up, but was pried open overnight on June 28. On June 29, a new window was in place and it was promptly smashed. Cold Turkey owner Daniel Lofchick estimated $5,000 worth of merchandise had been stolen. The most recent break-in effort at the Edmonton Street vape shop was thwarted by a security guard.

Vape Haven Broken Into Twice in Two Days

Jeremy Loewen, Vape Haven’s co-owner, said his store was broken into on July 4 and 5, 2017. On the first night, 5 devices worth $1200 and 30 juice bottles totaling $900 were stolen. On July, money and additional devices were stolen. This brought the total damage to $7,000 worth of merchandise and $4,000 in property damage.

During the first robbery, the front door was destroyed when large stones were thrown through it. A trailer hitch was used to smash the window on the second night.

Seeking Information on Vape Store Robberies

Apart from the obvious damage inflicted on the businesses, stolen vape juices and equipment have the potential to reach the hands of minors. The teen vaping epidemic poses an existential threat to the vaping industry and this is a serious concern. If you have any information on any of these Winnipeg vape shop break-ins, do not hesitate to contact the Winnipeg Police Department directly.

For the Flamingo Vape Break-In, if you have ANY leads on who they are or find the items being sold, please contact them or Winnipeg Police Department directly. If you prefer to stay anonymous, you can contact Flaming Vape through email ([email protected]) or by phone (204-219-8787)