York Regional Police used a helicopter and a canine unit over the weekend to prove to three teenage boys at Canada's Wonderland that crime does not pay ... not even in candy.
The youths were arrested Saturday after allegedly stealing the sweet treats from the Toronto-area amusement park.
"These kids definitely learned a lesson on that night," Const. Andy Pattenden said in an interview Tuesday.
Police released video of the arrest on Saturday night. It shows a police dog with officers approaching the three teens under some trees and the trio surrendering peacefully as the helicopter hovers nearby.
"It was quite the response," Pattenden said. "They were probably scared out of their minds when they heard the helicopter and dogs hot on the trail."
In a news statement, police said they were called by Canada's Wonderland security, who spotted the three teens — two 16-year-olds and one 15-year-old — within the closed park.
Police were told it was a theft and breaking and entering in progress, involving masked men. Police did not initially know the age of the suspects.
The boys were dressed in dark clothing with their faces covered. Police allege they entered one of the stores in the park and stole candy. The boys then left the store and disappeared into the park.
The York Regional Police helicopter, Air2, which was nearby, arrived and hovered over the scene in the park's south end.
With the help of a thermal imaging camera that can detect heat sources, officers in the air directed canine-unit officers to the area where the suspects were hiding.
Pattenden said the teens were arrested but released into the custody of their parents with a stern warning. The boys have been ordered to take part in a community referral program under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"They got away without a criminal charge in this case," he said. "It's a little bit of punishment there for them."
The video of the incident was released to deter others from engaging in crime, Pattenden said.
"While it was only a theft of candy, it came into us a little bit differently," he said.
"Thankfully, with the helicopter, we were able to reasonably [and] efficiently find the suspects and determine what had actually taken place."
Pattenden said the police response was appropriate given the suspected nature of the call.