Man charged in Burnaby poppy box thefts was arrested for the same thing in 2018

The man charged with stealing poppy fund donation boxes from multiple businesses in north Burnaby last November was also arrested by New Westminster police in 2018 for the same offence, police confirmed Wednesday.

Dwayne Edward Zbucki, 57, has been charged with theft under $5,000, according to online court records associated with the Burnaby RCMP file number for the case.

Mounties said in a news release Tuesday that an arrest had been made in the case, which involved three thefts of poppy donation boxes from businesses near the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Hastings Street last November.

Burnaby RCMP did not name the arrested man in their release, but confirmed to CTV News on Wednesday that it was Zbucki.

At the time of the thefts, police released surveillance video of a suspect taking one of the boxes. In it, the man can be seen walking over to the donation box and looking around, before pulling a tool out of his pocket, which he uses to cut the string or wire that was tethering the box to the counter on which it sat.

He looks around some more, and apparently walks away from the box for some amount of time. After a cut in the video, he can be seen placing the box into a green tote bag and beginning to walk away. 

Police identified the suspect “quite quickly,” and warrants were issued for his arrest, according to the Burnaby RCMP release. He was also wanted on two other outstanding theft warrants in Burnaby, police said.

The suspect was arrested last week by Port Moody police for an unrelated theft, and now faces multiple charges from several Lower Mainland jurisdictions.

A search of online court records yields 95 entries for the name Dwayne Edward Zbucki, with some of the cases dating back as far as 2001.

In November 2018, Zbucki was arrested and charged with theft under $5,000 for allegedly stealing donations from a Royal Canadian Legion branch in New Westminster. 

Branch number 148 in north Burnaby was the Legion that had placed the boxes that Zbucki allegedly stole last year.

Wilson Gurney, the branch’s president, said he was happy to hear that an arrest had been made in the case, though he expressed some doubt that the punishment for the offence would be a deterrent to future crimes.

“Hopefully his ancestors are not very happy with him,” Gurney said of the suspect.

Gurney estimated that the thefts cost the branch between $350 and $400 in lost donations, but noted that the Legion’s contact at Beedie Living – the developer building new condos on the same block as the Legion – had made up the difference.

“He found out about (the theft) and sent us a cheque for 500 bucks to the poppy fund,” Gurney said.

The branch is currently closed for renovations, but Gurney said it hopes to reopen this spring. 

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