Yuletide Bandit back on Winnipeg streets

Yuletide Bandit back on Winnipeg streets

After serving 15 years of his 21-year sentence, Michael Syrnyk, who earned the nickname of the Yuletide Bandit, is back on the street in Winnipeg.

Syrnyk was released from federal custody on Friday, April 21, to a community facility in Winnipeg where he will be monitored 24 hours a day and be required to report to a parole officer.

Winnipeg police Const. Tammy Skrabek says other police services in the province have been notified through an internal bulletin about Syrnyk's release in the event any suspicious incidents occur that could be possibly linked to his history. 

"The parole board felt in this case his risk wasn't so great that he should not be released. So they have granted him a release despite any concerns from the police or the public," said Skrabek.

Syrnyk plead guilty to 35 counts including 21 armed robberies and firearms-related charges that occurred during the Christmas season in Winnipeg between 1994 and 2002. He was sentenced to 17 years for robberies, and another six years for wounding two police officers with a sawed-off shot gun. After taking into account time already served, he was handed a sentence of 21 years and six months. 

"He has a large number of robbery offences, a large number of offences involving firearms and involving discharging those firearms in public places. That would be a concern from anybody. Any police service, any agencies, and any businesses in Winnipeg," said Skrabek.

She adds there is no indication Syrynk is going to reoffend in the same manner that he has, but as a precaution, police and the public need to be aware of his release and his history. 

"His history alone does indicate that yes, he is a risk, and that he is a danger and he is a threat to reoffend. But that is just based on history. The concern is not an immediate concern in terms of we know tomorrow he is going to rob a bank or shoot at a passing police car," she said.

Syrnyk's full sentence expires in 2023.

He has been eligible for full parole since February 22, 2010 but was not released.

In January of 2017, the Parole Board of Canada denied his request for day parole.

As of Friday, he has been living in a half-way house in Winnipeg where he has to comply with the conditions of his release. That includes not consuming drugs or alcohol, and complying with counselling and programming.

Skrabek says if Syrnyk breaches any of those conditions, a Canada-wide warrant will be issued and he will immediately be returned to prison.