Vancouver: Gangs using Armour Plated SUVs
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributora
This story is similar to the story I wrote this summer after witnessing a Gangster's SUV and a Joe Everyman "Wanna Be Gangstas" who outfit their SUV's , emulating their favourite Rapper Music Idols. Music Idols who in their quest to impress and their own belief in their own self importance spend hundreds of thousands outfitting their Bling Bling with armour plating, self healing tires, bullet proof glass and gun mounts. The public who idolise them, follow suit to impress their friends, but more likely to impress the babes have been keeping New York and LA coachmakers busy, who are only too happy to fulfill Rapper and the Public's desire rivalling a James Bond fantasy. Unfortunately some of Vancouver Gangs SUV refits are more "Dollar Store" quality, whereby the brakes and handling equipment to handle the additional tonnage of the SUV's steel armour plating is sorely lacking.
This idiocy reminds me of my days in the 1980's with CCRA when I was with my US Treasury counterparts we came across a Canadian man Gold Disco chains and all, trying to bring his newly modified Knight Rider car he had just had recoached in Massena, New York across the border into Canada. This guy spent close to 20 grand getting his new Firebird to be an exact replica of the TV's Knight Rider, unfortunately the US Coach builder failed to inform him this car would not pass US or Canada vehicle safety standards. His attempt to impress our Customs officals approaching the Border in true Knight Rider form, red lights a flashin, Knight Rider theme music coming out from under the hood, whacky flares, blackout windows, LEDs virtually everywhere in the interior virtually useless to read in daylight etc.... including a discovery of a modified windshield washer pump to dispense oil spray behind his car to foil those "International Criminals" who may want his prized possession certainly made our day as the car was stripped. Not to be undone a wiring jerry rigged spark plugs in the tail pipes in which to induce flames when altering the vehicles fuel mixture to spew gasoline into the exhaust pipes for the spark plugs to ignite and shoot flames out the backside of the vehicle. Yep, Mr. Knight Rider was truly despondent, when his pride and joy was left on the US side waiting for a tow truck to take it to parts unknown, while he took a Voyager Bus back into Canada. Yep, Good Times!
Gangs using tank-like SUVs
Armoured vehicles a risk to others on the road, police say
Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, December 20, 2007
VANCOUVER - Lower Mainland gangsters are taking to wearing bulletproof vests and driving armoured SUVs described by police as "rolling tanks."
Police have seized two armoured vehicles - a Cadillac Escalade and a GMC Suburban - that had been altered to protect driver and passengers from gunfire.
Vancouver police Insp. Dean Robinson, who is in charge of the Uniform Gang Task Force, said there likely will be more similarly modified vehicles on the streets.
"I don't think we've come across the only two there are," said Robinson, speaking to reporters today.
He was giving an overview of the task force's activities since it was initiated in November following a month of gangland mayhem in the Lower Mainland that resulted in 10 people being shot to death.
The unit uses uniformed officers in various Lower Mainland police forces to keep track of gang members who are seen in public or visiting nightclubs, restaurants and casinos.
Sgt. Shinder Kirk, of the Integrated Gang Task Force, said police were under no illusions that the potential for gang violence had been eliminated but said the special unit was suppressing street violence.
Since the unit took to the streets on Nov. 14 they have checked 2,623 persons, which resulted in:
- 368 reports written, either for criminal charges or to add to intelligence reports on gang activities.
- 74 tickets for various infractions.
- 16 outstanding warrants.
- 23 criminal charges.
- Seven firearms seized.
- Several sets of body armour confiscated.
- Two armoured vehicles seized.
In November, CN rail police and Surrey RCMP stopped a Cadillac Escalade at 160th and Highway 1 containing two known gang members, said Robinson.
They found the vehicle had been armoured and fitted with bulletproof windows.
The vehicle was also outfitted with a secondary rear gate that Robinson said "had ballistic integrity."
It was seized but then returned to the owner, although Robinson said ICBC is refusing to insure it because it didn't meet safety standards.
On Dec. 9, a GMC Suburban attempted to evade police but was stopped on East Georgia, where a passenger was seen throwing a handgun out of the vehicle.
It contained two known gang members, said Robinson, and in addition to being armoured, it was equipped with strobe lights and a siren similar to those found on police vehicles. It also had a miniature camera fixed near the rear licence plate and linked to a small viewing screen on the driver's console.
This vehicle is still being held by police as it had no VIN identification, said Robinson.
He said such vehicles were a danger to other road users.
"Typically they are so heavy they haven't got the braking power needed to stop them. If they collide with a regular vehicle on the road it's no contest. If they were involved in an accident, emergency personnel wouldn't be able to smash in the windows to help anyone inside," he said.
Robinson also said it was obvious why gangsters want to wear body armour and drive armoured vehicles: "Theirs is a dangerous lifestyle and they are rolling around in armoured vehicles for self-protection.
"We don't like the fact they are armed, we don't like the fact they are violent and we don't like the fact they are using armoured vehicles. This only emboldens them and makes them feel invulnerable.
"I don't like them feeling that way, which is why I'm really pleased when any police agency can take one of these things off the road."
Robinson said his unit was designed to suppress gang violence on the streets, and added that it seems to be working, as gang members are now leery about being seen in public.
Bar owners and staff in Vancouver's entertainment district feel safer since the unit was formed, he said.
"The public feels safer, too, knowing we are there."