Sabotage: Woman gets 3 years for tampering food at Calgary supermarket with pins, needles

A Calgary woman was sentenced to three years in prison for repeatedly sabotaging food at a Calgary Co-op supermarket by repeatedly placing needles, pins and other sharp objects into food products two years ago.

Judge Gerald Meagher told Tatyana Granada, 45 (right), during sentencing, "This was mean and malicious behavior. It goes beyond the victim. It could have caused danger to members of the public."

Granada, 45, was convicted on Feb. 17 of four counts of mischief and four counts of trespassing in connection with the incidents at Oakridge Co-op in southwest Calgary on Jan. 13, Jan. 18, Feb. 17 and March 10, 2010.

The judge said the woman’s actions were vindictive for having been charged with shoplifting at the store on Dec. 18, 2009 — just under a month before the spree of food-tampering incidents began.

Granada, who defended herself for the sentencing hearing, responded, "You got it wrong. I have children you must think about it. Shameful."

Calgary Co-op manager Al Madsen testified in Dec. 2011 that from the first discovery of food products with pins and nails in them, on Jan. 18, 2010, until Granada was arrested on March 16, 2010, about a dozen surveillance cameras were installed to go along with the two or three cameras in place in January.

He said some cameras were installed with the knowledge of staff after the January incidents and several more strategically located cameras were "installed surreptitiously after staff left," following further tampering incidents on Feb. 17.

Madsen said the cost of the new cameras was between $35,000 and $40,000.

He told Crown prosecutor Martha O’Connor at Granada’s trial that the store was closed at least twice to conduct entire grid searches for tampered products.

Madsen said the pattern of tampering was consistent through January, where pins and nails were placed in fresh foods in the cheese, deli, bakery and produce sections.

Madsen said undercover security officers were hired to be on the lookout at all times for possible tampering by customers or staff.

Following yet another rash of discoveries of food items with pins in them on March 11, 2010, the manager said it was decided not to close the store again, but to have cashiers inform all customers at checkouts to be vigilant about checking any food products for tampering.

That day, the bulk food bins were dumped out and because the store could not ensure safety of customers, $9,000 worth of food was thrown out.

It was around that time that assistant manager Chris Goode identified Granada as having been barred from the Co-op stores in December 2009 for shoplifting.

Madsen said he reviewed video surveillance of Granada’s entire shopping trip from March 10, 2010, and outlined her route and where she stopped.

Sabotage continues on Australian crops; biosecurity measures prevented latest attack

A saboteur who tried to poison a large strawberry crop in Queensland, Australia, has been foiled by tight security measures introduced after a similar attack in 2009.

Gowinta Farms at Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast, would have been facing multi-million dollar losses if staff had not discovered poison in the farm’s water stores.

Spokesman James Ashby said up to 170 acres of strawberries would have been lost and the incident, detected on Tuesday, was a lesson for all farmers about the importance of good security.

After the 2009 attack, which destroyed a greenhouse crop of tomatoes and cucumbers, the farm imposed a system to drain water tanks at the end of each day and regularly test water quality.

As a result, the presence of the poison was obvious to staff on Tuesday morning, Mr Ashby said.

Meanwhile, police are still trying to find those responsible for a crop sabotage incident at Bowen in north Queensland in June last year.

In that incident, Bowen Supa Seedlings lost more than seven million fruit and vegetable seedlings, destined to become crops for dozens of local growers, when its irrigation system was contaminated with herbicide.

A neighbouring property that shared the irrigation system lost more than 16,000 mature tomato plants.