Two suspects charged in string of post-secondary credit card thefts
By Scott Strasser, June 1 2016 —
Two suspects are charged with stealing more than 50 credit and debit cards from three Calgary post-secondary institutions in recent months.
Alexander Louis Harsanyi, 22, and Monica Rebalski, 22, are both charged with multiple counts of theft under $5,000 and fraud under $5,000.
Calgary Police Services launched an investigation in March after they received multiple reports of stolen credit and debit cards from the University of Calgary locker rooms in the kinesiology complex.
Calgary Police Services believe the cards were stolen over a three-month period and fraudulently used approximately 300 times.
“Despite the convenience that debit cards and credit cards may offer, there’s an added degree of responsibility when it comes to being in public areas,” Calgary Police Services district three commander Darren Leggett said.
According to Leggett, investigators discovered similar offences at SAIT and Mount Royal University around the same time.
“When you look at these three institutions, they’re truly cities within cities,” Leggett said. “We do hope for a heightened degree of awareness and diligence from everybody when it comes to using these facilities and bringing valuables into public areas.”
March 2016 saw a spike in thefts from the U of C kinesiology locker rooms, with 12 reported thefts in the first three weeks of the month. U of C Campus Security sent out a community advisory email on March 23 informing students of the increase in theft and urging them to ensure their belongings were protected.
Campus Security manager of community operations Rick Gysen said the email resulted in reports of consistent suspects from theft victims.
“Just before April, we had reports where a wallet was stolen. They called the bank to report it and were given information the card had been used at a specific place on campus,” Gysen said. “We were able to review the [CCTV] footage for that area and were able to identify by description the two suspects.”
Gysen said a Campus Security patrol officer identified the two suspects on April 2.
“As soon as we caught them, we got the police involved. They were positively linked and identified in a number of thefts that occurred,” he said.
Third-year ecology student Erin Miller said she and her friend had their credit cards stolen from their bags while showering in the U of C kinesiology locker rooms in March.
“It felt like a pain to shove all of our stuff back into the locker for a five minute shower, so we left our stuff by the benches,” Miller said. “Both of our credit cards were in wallets, which were in closed backpacks. And both of our credit cards were taken, with the wallets put back in the backpacks.”
Miller said she met another victim of credit card theft immediately afterwards.
“When we realized what had happened, we were ranting about it while finishing getting ready and a girl near us told us her credit card had been stolen earlier that week,” she said.
Harsanyi and Rebalski will appear in court June 29.