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Suspended sentence for meat theft

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 19/04) - Justice officials can officially close the books on Yellowknife's Great Meat Caper after a local man was sentenced Tuesday for his role in the theft of nearly $10,000 worth of steak, duck and seafood from a pair of businesses earlier this summer.

Chris Hrynczuk, a recovering crack-cocaine addict, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of stolen property and will not spend time in jail if he obeys the terms of his probation order.

"You have a debt to repay to society," said territorial court judge Brian Bruser.

In early June, Hrynczuk sold several cuts of T-bone steaks and duck meat to a witness, who later called police because he was concerned the food had been stolen, Crown attorney Loretta Colton said. Another witness reported seeing Hrynczuk carrying crab meat back to his downtown apartment.

Police obtained a search warrant and, on June 9, discovered the remnants of a cache of meats in Hrynczuk's apartment. Crown officials believe the duck meat came from Le Stock Pot, a downtown kitchenware store that was burglarized on June 4.

Roughly 15 pounds of duck meat -- which sells for nearly $100 per pound -- was taken.

The crab meat came from Our Place Restaurant, where thieves made away with nearly $8,000 worth of seafood on May 25. Hrynczuk was a dishwasher at the restaurant.

On Tuesday, Hrynczuk admitted to selling the stolen meats, but the Crown could not tie him directly to the burglaries. Colton dropped the three charges of break and enter.

A second man arrested in connection with the thefts, Adrian Bilodeau, had his charges stayed due to a lack of evidence, Colton told the court.

Hyrnczuk, who is recovering from a severe addiction to crack cocaine, was given credit for his rehabilitation efforts, which included the completion of a 28-day detox program and almost daily visits to support groups for drug addicts.

"You had become part of an ugly, growing and frightening social problem (in Yellowknife)," Bruser said, referring to the proliferation of crack cocaine. "But you are unique because of your efforts...at rehabilitation."

In addition to a one year probation order, Bruser directed Hrynczuk to perform 80 hours of community service.

Colton had asked for a sentence in the range of two to three months, in part because of the recent rash of drug-related crime in the city.

"This is a rapidly expanding problem in Yellowknife. Large and small scale thefts are (being committed) to finance the addiction."