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The Facebook Burglar nabbed in Canada after kayaking across border: police

No one could accuse Steven Pieczynski of lacking imagination.

In the United States, the media nicknamed him the Facebook Burglar. And on this side of the border he will be known as the man who allegedly entered Canada by kayak.

The 37-year-old New Jersey man made headlines in the U.S. last year because he used Facebook statuses to determine that the occupants of a house were out of town before he burglarized it.

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After an arrest warrant was issued in the U.S. three weeks ago, Canadian police and officers of the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted him Tuesday in east-end Toronto, in the area near the corner of Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue East.

Mr. Pieczynski is suspected by police of having fled New Jersey using his wife's stolen car, according to a wanted notice by the Hunterdon County Fugitive Task Force.

Convicted for burglary and theft in Massachusetts, he didn't show up to serve his sentence. He also faced similar charges in New Jersey where there is a warrant for him, said Detective Jesse Windfield of the Hunterdon County Sheriff´s Office.

Canadian authorities say he sneaked into Canada on Sept. 29 by paddling a kayak across the Niagara River.

Mr. Pieczynski is alleged to have set off from Lewiston, in upper New York State, about 10 kilometres downstream from the Niagara Falls and across the river from the Ontario village of Queenston, and then made his way to the Greater Toronto Area.

His Facebook notoriety started when a family from Wrightstown Township, north of Philadelphia, were away on a trip in September 2011.

According to U.S. media accounts, someone broke into the home and absconded with jewels, gift cards, coins and DVDs. Neighbours reported seeing a suspicious Toyota with New Jersey plates near the house.

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This led police to Mr. Pieczynski, who lived a 20-minute drive away in New Jersey.

Investigators later found that Mr. Pieczynski was a Facebook friend of the victims and saw on his own account pictures of his car, which matched the description of the Toyota.

Police say that Mr. Pieczynski used the social-networking site to plan his burglaries. A search of his house led to further charges that he burglarized the homes of two neighbours while power was out during Hurricane Irene's passage in August 2011.

Defence lawyer Andrew Schneider, who represented Mr. Pieczynski in the Pennsylvania burglary case, said his client was sentenced but was supposed to report to custody at a later date. He could not provide more details.

Mr. Pieczynski will remain in custody at the Metro West Detention Centre while he waits for an immigration hearing.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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