A Kamloops man, who stole $3,400 worth of laptops and iPads from St. Ann’s Academy, has been handed an 18-month jail sentence for multiple thefts and break-ins. Appearing via video conference on Thursday, Richard Burton, 54, pleaded guilty to a trio of offences in provincial court in Kamloops.
On Oct. 9, 2020, police responded to St. Ann’s Academy, located downtown on Columbia Street, for reported theft of computers from a classroom, where locked cupboards with the devices stored had been pried open.
Surveillance footage showed Burton had been wandering around the school the night before, attempting to open doors. He eventually entered an unlocked classroom with two large bags and a backpack.
The school principal recognized Burton as a person he escorted out of the school on Oct. 8, after he found him wandering the halls during school hours.
The GPS software from one of the stolen iPads lead police to the Star Lodge Motel — one of a handful of motels listed by the City of Kamloops as nuisance properties — and a search warrant was executed at Burton’s residence. The 10 iPads and five laptops were found and seized.
Weeks earlier, on Sept. 21, police attended a pharmacy and salon at 755 McGill Rd. for reported break-ins. Glass doors to the businesses had been smashed open. Video surveillance showed Burton had broken into both businesses, but apparently did not steal anything. A tip lead police to Burton at the Star Lodge Motel, where he was arrested and later released.
Burton was later targeted by police on the evening of Oct. 1, as part of an attempt to address property crime in the area. An officer observed him with binoculars as he left his home and entered the Superstore in Sahali, where he stole $265 worth of items. Court heard Burton has a lengthy criminal record, mostly for property crimes in Ontario, where he was born and raised. Court also heard the events took place during a stretch of time that was the longest Burton had been out of jail since the 1980s.
After serving a sentence in Toronto, Burton came to Kamloops last March, in an attempt for a clean slate. He found work and lodging with an old friend.
But at one point, he had to move and ended up living at the Star Lodge Motel, where he fell back into long held drug habits, telling the court it was easy to obtain illicit substances from other tenants.
“I had no idea what it was like,” Burton said. “I didn’t even have to leave the room to get drugs, the dealer was next door. It was a bit too much for me. I couldn’t handle it and I ended up in the drug scene again.”
Burton said he steals to feed his drug habit, but feels he can maintain a drug-free lifestyle as long as he stays away from triggers. He said he wants to seek treatment once he is released again from jail.
“I’m getting too old for this, sir, it’s a young kid's game,” Burton told judge Robin Smith. “I can do it, I just moved into the wrong place.”
Burton’s lawyer, Kristjan Thorsteinson, and Crown prosecutor Leah Winters submitted a joint submission of 18 months in jail with two years probation, which Smith accepted.
Burton will remain behind bars for another year. He has been in custody since Oct. 11, 2020 (130 days). With the 1.5 days for pre-trial custody factored in, Burton has served 195 days, leaving him with 340 days left of his sentence. Burton was handed five months in jail for the St. Ann’s theft, one month for the Superstore theft and 12 months for the break-ins to the salon and pharmacy. He is also banned from attending those establishments.