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Old 12-06-2017, 02:18 AM   #1
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Canadian Customs Purgatory

On December 5, 2017 at approximately 2:30 pm I attempted to enter Canada through the ABBOTSFORD-HUNTINGDON (817)
Canadian Customs office.
I explained to the customs officer that I would be in Canada to pick up a trailer that I was purchasing from Escape trailer Industries in Chilliwack BC. I spoke to the officer with the utmost congeniality and respect.
The customs officer referred me to the office for further investigation.
Two female customs officers searched my truck and I cooperated fully with their investigation.
They asked how I would be paying for the trailer, and I told them that I would be paying cash via wire transfer.
They called Escape trailer Industries, and verified that I would be purchasing a trailer, and that there was no record of a wire transfer at that time.
I provided the officers with the name of my bank in Pennsylvania and the bank officer in charge of the wire transfer.
The officers asked for the password to my cell phone and I cooperated fully, providing it. I provided the officers with the password a second time when they forgot it.
When going through my cell phone they found a picture of a pistol. I explained to the officers that I had purchased the pistol in July , and that the pistol was at home in a safe. They were not satisfied with this answer and insisted that the pistol must be in my truck, and that they would disassemble my truck if I didnt tell them where it was.
They also frisked me and had me remove my shirt, looking for a "money belt". Im assuming that they thought I was carrying 32 thousand dollars cash to pay for the trailer.
After approximately 2 hours, and searching my truck twice, they finally confiscated three apples and let me through to drive to Escape Industries In Chilliwack.
As I was leaving the customs office, one of the officers asked me if I had any questions. I sincerely asked the officers what I had done to warrant such treatment, and how I could avoid difficulties in the future. They replied that I "must have done something, because we dont search everybody", which made absolutely no sense to me.

Some concerns:
-At all times I was respectful, courteous, and genial with the customs officers
-I have absolutely no criminal record of any kind.
-I courteously,clearly and genially explained in detail my business in Canada, where I was going, and how long I would be there.
-Did the customs officers have the jurisdiction necessary to search my cell phone?
-Is the photo of the pistol that they found on my phone sufficient evidence to warrant their insistance that the pistol was in my truck, and that they would disassemble my truck if I did not tell them where it was?
-If the officers did find a "money belt" containing funds would they have confiscated said funds?
If so, I can think of no more effective way of killing Canadian exports to the United States.
I think highly of the products manufactured by Escape Trailer Industries, and had planned on purchasing another larger unit from them in the near future, but I cannot justify making such a purchase, given the capricious behavior of Canadian customs agents
With Regrets;
Dennis Siepierski

Note: I spoke to the folks at Escape about it, and they said it "wasn't our problem", that they have no control over customs. It might not be their Fault, but as an exporter to US customers it is definitely their Problem.
A few suggestions:
- bring the issue to the attention of Canadian export organizations
-do more to make customers aware of potential problems entering Canada (it aint like it was years ago)
- devise orientation resources/ procedures that make it unnecessary for customers to enter Canada to pick up their purchased trailer.
Thoughts?
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Old 12-06-2017, 04:55 AM   #2
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Hi: DSiepierski... Your time in Purgatory shows what powers the inspectors at border crossings have. They are "Gods" in their own territory. We as Canadians have been subject to searches by the US Inspectors and found to be smuggling as little as a quarter of a red pepper, washed, seeded and sealed in a ziploc bag!!! The fine for failing to declare is $300. bucks!!!
This whole process is unsettling and yes, makes one weary of travelling to a foreign country, but in today's society... necessary.
Last time we flew to Florida our return trip turned nasty at the airport. I was singled out for secondary inspection being marked as "The chosen one". At least I was forewarned the inspectors touch could get personal. WHY ME?
The BC sales tax laws make it necessary for ETI to export the trailers as they now do. Alf
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:10 AM   #3
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Dennis,
I am sure you are frustrated with your experience at the border. The quick answer is that customs officials do have the authority to search anything you are bringing across the border including your cell phone.
I have to imagine something prompted your being singled out, perhaps your last name or an incident involving someone matching your appearance or your vehicle’s description. There is a member of this forum who always got hassled when crossing because he shared the same first and last name of another person who had been banned from entering Canada. Both were from Florida as I understand the situation. Another member was hassled a bit because agents found out that he was a retired employee of a firearms manufacturer.
I have a concealed carry permit and I’m told that this information pops up on the screen when my passport is scanned. Still, I have never been scrutinized at the border other than to be asked if I have any weapons, which is a pretty standard question, along with “are you bringing anything into Canada that you are going to leave in Canada?” That question seemingly relates to the collection of import duties. I typically go to Canada once a year and perhaps I am lucky but neither my vehicle nor my trailer has ever been searched other than to have a walk around by a drug sniffing dog while I was answering the standard questions.
ETI is correct that they have no control over what happens at the border. If you want to purchase a larger Escape, you do have the option of skipping orientation and just having them deliver it in Sumas, WA. There is no reason to punish ETI or to deprive yourself because of the actions of a couple of customs agents who had probably been told to “be on the lookout for .....”
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:27 AM   #4
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We crossed the border at Sumas when we picked up our trailer in April. The Canadian customs officer asked several times about any weapons we had. The officer had trouble believing someone from Texas didn't have a gun or knife. I finally told him we did have some kitchen knives. I guess that could have been taken as a smart aleck answer, but I wanted to answer truthfully when he specifically asked about knives.

Crossing into Canada at Sumas may make it easier since they are familiar with exporting/importing Escape trailers into the US and US buyers going to Canada to get their trailers.

A few weeks later we went back into Canada and returned after a few weeks via Sumas. I didn’t have a license plate on my trailer at that time, and I figured Sumas was the safest way to cross. They did want to see my paperwork. Anyway, during the questioning by the US immigration officer, he said “The stars at night are big and bright”, and I replied “Deep in the hart of Texas” (it is a song). He was testing me to see if I was really from Texas. My wife, who isn’t from the US, had no idea what just happened.

By the way, I don't think there are problems with taking large amounts of cash into Canada if you declare it at the border. There are other discussions on this form that have talked about this in regards to making the final trailer payment.
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Old 12-06-2017, 05:49 AM   #5
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Not sure where Abbotsford is in relation to Sumas and Chilliwack but at Sumas Escape is well known? Also at Osoyoos for the yearly rally. But entering Canada at other places I too have been grilled, particularly about guns. It seems when you obtain a concealed weapon carry permit, it goes out over law enforcement everywhere and their antennae are raised when you approach them. Also I had my identity stolen 10 years ago, another red flag which causes additional questioning. No body searches though. I can understand your predicament.
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:00 AM   #6
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Looks like the Sumas (US Side) crossing is the Abbotsford (CAN Side) crossing.
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:22 AM   #7
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I did not know that, so this is the Canadian side going to Chilliwack and Sumas is US returning?
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:47 AM   #8
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This is the reason I plan on skipping orientation and just having them deliver it in Sumas. When we pick up our new trailer we will be on a hunting trip along the way of course we will have some weapons. You see what they did when they seen a picture of one. well if you had one you still be there.many people cross everyday with no problem,but if you get targeted for a detailed search it is very upsetting. I love to see EFT have a yard on the U.S border where you could pick up and get orientation and a temporary license plate. .
They do have power to search anything . including you butt hole witch happens on a daily basis. My sister in-law works on the thousand island bridge and is very often called over to witness a female strip searches. I guess they like to have a witness that the custom officer did not do any thing inappropriate. I not sure what makes them decide who they target. I also believe some our random. I understand they have to protect both borders and with the events over the last 20 years this may be a necessary evil.
Next trailer just skip orientation
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:05 AM   #9
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Crossing

As mentioned the extensive searches can be both random or “for a reason” at the end of the day the outcome is really only a story you can tell forever. I’d give a quarter (U,S.) to see what pops up on the screen when they scan my I D. Sometimes I get extensive questioning, twice a U.S. customs search, once 14 questions crossing to Osoyoos, 12 of them about my thoughts on the 19 as a late fall hunting rig. Don’t let this bother you, life’s too short. If you want to mess them up, once they tell you you’re free to go, tell them they are doing a Hell of a Fine job and that you appreciate their efforts. They don’t get much of that. Enforcement these days is tough, we all have to get use to that. Enjoy your trailer. Life is too short to worry about a Canadian crossing. Play it straight with those guys and you will get through.
Iowa Dave
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:14 AM   #10
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Heart of Texas

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasG View Post
We crossed the border at Sumas when we picked up our trailer in April. The Canadian customs officer asked several times about any weapons we had. The officer had trouble believing someone from Texas didn't have a gun or knife. I finally told him we did have some kitchen knives. I guess that could have been taken as a smart aleck answer, but I wanted to answer truthfully when he specifically asked about knives.

Crossing into Canada at Sumas may make it easier since they are familiar with exporting/importing Escape trailers into the US and US buyers going to Canada to get their trailers.

A few weeks later we went back into Canada and returned after a few weeks via Sumas. I didn’t have a license plate on my trailer at that time, and I figured Sumas was the safest way to cross. They did want to see my paperwork. Anyway, during the questioning by the US immigration officer, he said “The stars at night are big and bright”, and I replied “Deep in the hart of Texas” (it is a song). He was testing me to see if I was really from Texas. My wife, who isn’t from the US, had no idea what just happened.



By the way, I don't think there are problems with taking large amounts of cash into Canada if you declare it at the border. There are other discussions on this form that have talked about this in regards to making the final trailer payment.
Your song lyrics comment reminds me of “ Password “ stories from WWII where American camp guards would ask lost or intruding US military clothed soldiers “ Who won the World Series last year” . Every American knew the answer back then. Now, most of us would fail this simple question.
The sage in bloom is like perfume.
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