Canadians aren’t known for their erratic behaviors. When compared to their southern neighbors, Canadians appear to be almost boring. But this is one story that’s getting a lot of attention. And for good reason.
Leston Lawrence, a worker at the Royal Canadian Mint, is believed to have stolen $180,000 in gold from his employer. How he stole the gold bars is what’s getting the attention. Authorities believe he hid them in a body cavity–yet they can’t prove he actually did it.
Leston is hardly the first human to smuggle something by inserting it in his anus. This habit is actually one of the defining behaviors evinced only by humans. And has proven successful. These are the actual bars, pictured below.
Leston Lawrence is 35 and lives in Ottawa. His job at the Mint was “to scoop gold from buckets so it could be tested for purity.” No one at the mint saw him stealing. In fact, they can’t be sure he stole anything, because their own internal tracking systems showed no discrepancies. So why is Lawrence being charged with “smuggling-for-cash charges, including theft, laundering the proceeds of crime, possession of stolen property and breach of trust?”
Lawrence’s bank reported odd fluctuation in his banking practices.
Lawrence’s defense team calls the allegations “appalling.” “This is the Royal Canadian Mint, your Honour, and one would think they should have the highest security measures imaginable,” his lawyer said in his closing remarks. “And here the gold is left sitting around in open buckets.”
The Mint does store gold in open buckets. They melted gold is cast into ingots about the size of a cookie. Four of those ingots were found in a safe deposit box belonging to Lawrence. And he’d sold as many as 18–reportedly for $6,800 each. Where did he get them? He’s not saying. Nor does he have to. The Mint can’t prove that the gold belongs to them.
The trial has gotten a lot of media attention. Here’s the account from The Ottawa Citizen:
[The] Court was told Lawrence set off the metal detector at an exit from the “secure area” with more frequency than any other employee — save those with metal medical implants. When that happened, the procedure was to do a manual search with a hand-held wand, a search that he always passed. (It was not uncommon for employees to set off the detector, court heard.) Investigators also found a container of Vaseline in his locker and the trial was presented with the prospect that a puck could be concealed in an anal cavity and not be detected by the wand. In preparation for these proceedings, in fact, a security employee actually tested the idea…
[T]he defense countered with a couple of important points. The Crown was not able to prove conclusively that the gold in Lawrence’s possession actually came from inside the Mint. It had no markings nor, apparently, had any gold been reported missing internally. The Crown was able to show the pucks precisely fit the Mint’s custom “dipping spoon” made in-house — not available commercially — that is used to scoop molten gold during the production process… [Lawrence’s lawyer] implied there were many ways Lawrence could have legitimately obtained the gold — he could have bought the coins, for instance — and said he made no efforts to be devious with the gold buyers or the bank. Further, [he] said, the Mint isn’t even sure a theft took place.
For their part, the Mint is stepping up security precautions. Their putting in more cameras. They’ll be weighing metal more frequently to balance their holdings, and they’ll be using “trend analysis technology” to see just who may need a good cavity search.