Toronto Crime Stoppers is offering an “enhanced” cash reward of up to $50,000 for information that can help investigators identify those responsible for a suspected hate crime at a Jewish-owned deli in North York.
A fire at International Delicatessen Foods (IDF), located near Steeles Avenue and Keele Street, broke out early Wednesday morning, Jan. 3. The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported. “Free Palestine” was spray-painted on the outside of the building.
Toronto police confirmed they are investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime. On Friday, Crime Stoppers announced a cash reward for any information that can help investigators make an arrest.
Usually, Crime Stoppers offers a $2,000 reward for tips that lead to arrests, but Sean Sportun, chair of Toronto Crime Stoppers, told CTV News Toronto they want to assist the Toronto Police Service, and the community, to bring this to a resolution.
“I think having this dealt with in an expedited manner will put a little bit of ease within the community” Sportun said. “I think its something that Toronto Crime Stoppers sees is very, very important.”
In the past, Sportun said Toronto Crime Stoppers has offered enhanced cash rewards for tips related to a number of different crimes, adding they decide on when to present these rewards on a case-by-case basis.
“Obviously, with this one it has had great impact on the entire community,” Sportun said.
The reward will only be available up until March 1.
Deputy Mayor Michael Colle and Coun. James Pasternak called the incident “an incredible tipping point,” and said the suspected arson was an act of “hideous, targeted intimidation.” Colle said the owner of the store, who does not want to be identified for fear of future attacks, is “shell shocked.”
“We don’t want this to be a pattern of more of these horrendous acts of violence. We want this to stop and that’s why one of the things we’re asking for is basically for the federal minister to look at this as whether it meets the criteria of an act of terror,” Colle said.
Colle called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford for more support.
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc called the rise in hate crimes “both alarming and concerning.”
“Antisemitism has absolutely no place in Canada. Our law enforcement and security agencies are taking all appropriate steps to keep Canadians safe,” the statement to CTV News Toronto reads in part.
Colle also told reporters Monday he reached out to the federal and provincial attorney generals to make changes to the “very feeble laws” that make it “almost impossible” to prosecute individuals in these kinds of incidents.
In December, Toronto police said they had recorded nearly 100 hate crimes in the city since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, initiated by a surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. Police classified 56 of those incidents as antisemitic, and another 20 were categorized as anti-Muslim or anti-Palestinian.
Anyone with information in relation to the incident at the deli on Jan. 3 can call Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.222tips.com.
With files from Phil Tsekouras
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