The unveiling of Igor Kenk as a comicbook ‘anti-hero’ in the graphic novel “Kenk: A Graphic Portrait” has made alot of people realise that the Kenk Saga has ceased being a criminal case, and has now become part of the city’s culture, and perhaps someday, part of its retrospectively colored history. Unbeknownst to many Torontonians, the infamous case of Igor Kenk vs. The Crown was actually wrapped up at the end of 2009 with a guilty plea to 16 various drug and theft charges. Although this case was widely publicised at the start with high-profile bust of Kenk at his Queen West location, the Public has been left to simmer in its own bitter bile for a few years, only to find out that Kenk was then released for time served in February of 2010. How could this possibly be a fitting closure for alleged crimes that spanned decades, and resulted in thousands of bikes being seized? Who can fault the Public for once again feeling as though justice can be miscarried through plea-bargaining?
The root of this mis-perception lies in the fact that Igor has been notorious for many, many years now. His outrageous public persona was genuinely the stuff of legend, and although bike-theft was a citywide pox, Igor had become the central communicator for the entire disease. So it creates a schism in public perceptions when the alleged theft of thousands of bikes, and assorted drug charges, resulted in only 30 months of jail time, which was commuted to include time already served. This might very well be a case where the legend becomes larger than life, and once justice peeled away at its layers, we weren’t left with enough substance to prosecute to the degree that the Public thirsted for. Or perhaps the Public has been mislead by events, and missed some key facts about the actual crimes and Kenks culpability, and is now left hanging as well!
The legends have been forming for many years…. Kenk ran a highly visible shop, on a very prestigious stretch of Queen West, and he made no bones about the fact that he knew more about the bike theft problem in Toronto, than even the police did.
Like any second-hand merchant, or pawn-shop operator, he needed to log all his items to document his inventory in case a thief tried to fence stolen goods through him. If anything in his inventory didn’t appear in this log, the police had clear recourse to press charges. Yet year after year, as the legend grew, no charges were ever able to stick, and eventually the police were reportedly simply referring bike theft complaints straight to Igor, as became some sort of recovery service for stolen bikes.
Some would say, that the Police were dis-interested in the hassles of trying to investigate stolen bikes in a City that had seemingly de-prioritized these crimes. Others would say that Igor’s position in the underbelly of society allowed him to do better job of attracting stolen bikes, and turning them over for a fee, than any law-enforcement efforts could ever provide. Others might allege that Igor was such an evil crime genius that he could collect and funnel bikes out of the city, right under the nose of investigators. Yet we’ve all found out now that he was actually hoarding these bikes…Which makes him a rather incompetent thief, if he isn’t actually getting anything back from his crimes!
Yet the Public wanted an arch-villain in Igor, and a root cause for bike theft in Toronto, and that’s what rumors and the Media provided them. So how do we equate the legendary crimes with Justice served? Either the Justice system is also corruptible, or perhaps we’ve been mislead about the actual crimes committed.
Although “Igor the Terrible” seemed to be an apt moniker that was used for this infamous character over the years, the Toronto Media and the general Public (perhaps in its desire for World recognition) latched onto a phrase that appeared in the British Press, and began referring to Igor as “world’s most notorious bike thief”. This notoriety is at the root of our dilemma. Kenk has been presented as some sort of drug dealing bike-theft Kingpin of a crime ridden underworld of thieves and addicts, and even the most talented Prosecutor would be hard pressed to make those ‘charges’ stick.
Kenk’s case certainly raised public attention to the long-ignored issue of bike theft in Toronto, and the Police raised their own profile with their sever crackdown on Toronto bike-theft with their single sting operation at Kenk’s shop. However it’s this same PR value, that has created dissatisfaction since the Public was also allowed to mis-associated the thousands of bikes seized as all being verifiably stolen property, which represented many individual crimes, and therefore a huge debt to society. Perhaps this is because the Media wasn’t pressed with PR releases at key moments, and nobody even blinked back in September of 2009 when the prosecuting Crown attorneys in the Igor Kenk case also brought a successful Civil suit against the Defendant to confiscate not only the remaining (ie. unclaimed) 2,292 bicycles that were seized in the famous raids, but also Mr. Kenk’s $700,000 shop on Toronto’s Queen West and two trucks. Rather than explain the details of the Civil Remediations Act (CRA) to the Public, they were simply left to presume that Kenk was stripped of all his ill-begotten possessions because they were all from the proceeds of crime. The least that the crown could do was not let him keep what he stole…right?
You can read more about the CRA here, and how this separate Civil suit, is the main reason why the Public will never feel like Justice was served in this case…Otherwise we can look for a sense of closure and vindication through other means below
For example, on Sunday April 4th, the an announcement was made from the Attorney General that the remaining bicycles (mostly in parts) that were forfeited last year by Igor Kenk (as a result of this civil suit – not criminal charges) would be disbursed by officials to a variety of groups that represented “kids in need”, and with this it was presumed that a well-scripted happy ending would finally provide the Public with some sense of closure…Unfortunately, when Kenk showed up at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre to try and buy back a few of his bikes, and assist with the rebuilding of the rest…This well presented PR event, backfired by reminding the Public that Kenk is now a free man, who still wants to work with bikes, and perhaps mentor the little street urchins, as was always hist well-known MO on Queen Street!
But…Since the Law didn’t really provide us with the closure we all needed, perhaps we can continue the search for it…Starting below
…a continuing saga
The Public has now seen its first case of Property seizures, that led to forfeitures, that led to misunderstandings about the actual crimes…and left us wanting more Justice…For ALL!
The thousands of bikes and parts forfeited by Kenk and donated by the Crown to serve a Public Good might not be enough to satisfy the Public’s sense of justice, but at least it’s a good start. Luckily there’s MUCH more to this story than we can receive from official sources…
The Law can leave us feeling like Justice isn’t always served…The saga of Igor Kenk as Toronto’s “most notorious bike thief” provides us with multiple views on how to cure this, and other the Ills of Society…
The vilification of Igor the Terrible has been underway for years, and this is the first of many reasons why popular ideas assure that Justice may never be truly served…
in all the bike theft that had been attributed to this despised character who had continuously operated in plain sight of the entire city right at the foot of Trinity Bellwoods Park,