NEWS
07/15/2011 06:30 EDT | Updated 09/14/2011 05:12 EDT

Canada Soldiers Robbed At Home, While Serving Overseas

CP

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- EDMONTON - Military police in Edmonton are tracking down soldiers in Afghanistan and asking if they are missing any campers, ATVs or snowmobiles back home.

The call-out is to help an ongoing city police investigation of two soldiers accused of stealing and trying to sell recreational vehicles owned by three of their colleagues who were serving overseas.

Capt. Derrick Forsythe, a spokesman at Edmonton Garrison, said there may well be more victims.

But it's been difficult reaching soldiers in Afghanistan who are busy and may not know if their toys are missing from a shared storage compound on the Edmonton base.

"Trying to get a hold of them in Afghanistan with everything that's going on over there with packing up of the kit and bringing it home -- they're kind of busy at the other end," Forsythe said Friday.

Last week, after more than five years, the Canadian military ended its involvement in southern Afghanistan, passing on its positions and responsibilities to the U.S. Army. Some 950 Canadian soldiers and support staff are to remain in the country on a training mission until 2014.

Two of the soldiers robbed of recreational vehicles are still in Afghanistan. The third was recently injured and sent home.

Forsythe said soldiers targeting other soldiers is disturbing.

"There's a pretty strong culture of trust inside the military. There has to be. It's the nature of the job. So any time something like this happens, it's particularly troubling."

Privates Varrel Fitz-Charles, 25, and Kieran Lawless-Johnston, 21, were charged last month with possession of stolen property, and break, enter and theft. They are to appear in court in August.

Forsythe said it's not likely the pair have ever been posted overseas. They are not with their units, but attached to the base's integrated personnel support centre.

They were undergoing counselling, said Forsythe. He could not provide further details.

Edmonton police spokesman Chad Orydzuk said a person who wanted to buy a recreational vehicle that was for sale became suspicious of the deal and called police.

The two soldiers were arrested while they were towing a trailer.

Orydzuk said two travel trailers and a boat have been returned to their rightful owners.