Feature Story                                                                                                Thursday, March 26, 2015


Bermuda Triangle of Crime

Police shut down city and come up empty-handed in street by street search for serial robber  REVISED

Staff/Voice photo


A police cruiser sits in the middle of Five Corners intersection Monday, as RCMP seal off the downtown core, following a robbery at Subway on Yale Rd. in Chilliwack.  


t's a city on the edge. A string of nine robberies downtown in as many days has left Chilliwack store owners with a bad taste in their mouths and a case of the jitters, prompting some now to roll up the rugs long before dark.


"I'm not taking any chances," said one unnamed Mill Street merchant.


Meanwhile, the slippery suspect has evaded multiple perimeter lockdowns, outwit K9 tracking dogs and escaped a virtual manhunt.

After two more robberies downtown Tuesday, the streets looked and sounded more like the Wild West. Mounties blazed into every nook and cranny looking for their outlaw, checking and re-checking anyone on foot or a bicycle to no avail.


Street people knew they were being shaken-down. Some retaliated by randomly kicking in windows and lighting small fires.


The brazen bandit's modus operandi is the same each time; a tee shirt over the nose and a cloth wrapped around a hand concealing what's alleged to be a weapon. It's never been confirmed that a knife or gun was involved in any of the robberies. He could be just holding a stick.


No one's been hurt in the larcenies. So far he's only going for cash, which in most instances isn't a lot. For example, Gingko's Restaurant had $100 taken.


Then he flees on foot. In some areas, bicycles may be more of a hindrance because they have to be ridden on roads and sidewalks, therefore easier to spot.


Thursday, police focused mainly on street-checking cyclists, looking at serial numbers on upwards of a dozen overnight. Serial numbers which could be linked to plates and registration. In 2009, Mayor Sharon Gaetz told The Voice that administrating a system like that would be impractical, meaning it would lose money.


All the Chilliwack robberies have occurred downtown in what can be referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of Crime. It's ten blocks where a lot of things go missing.


If the suspect were to focus his nefarious activity in Sardis, the chances of him being caught on the Southside are greater, because it's just too far to run with too few places to hide while waiting for the police to back off.


In one of the latest incidents, he was thwarted by staff while attempting to hold-up the Esso Macs Convenience store at First Ave. and Young Rd., just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. A store employee told The Voice afterward that the suspect didn't get any cash and was actually chased from the store and down the street by a manager.

From there, the thin Caucasian desperado, said to be in his 30's with facial acne, sprinted to Southgate Mall, and this time he was successful in pulling off a heist at Little Caesars around 9 p.m. It's not known how much was taken.

So where is the prig? This is a question the police have now turned to the community with.


There weren't any reports of robberies on Wednesday. But, it was also welfare cheque issue day. In doing a little profiling ourselves, it wouldn't be hard to envision the suspect hunkered down in a closet somewhere with a bag or two of cocaine.


Naturally, store owners want to know who could be next? The only thing that's safe to say is any business within a short distance of Five Corners with one staff and a till is a potential target.


But choosing a store he wouldn't rob is easier than picking one he would. For instance, Tim Horton's or McDonalds would be off-limits because they're full of people, and he could possibly get grabbed like at the Mac's where he encountered two staff.


Then we always have to keep in mind that there's no honour amongst thieves, and therefore no drug testing either. Once fuelled up on coke, they can run twenty-blocks back faster than an Ethiopian marathoner.


So, as the robber's funds begin to dwindle and the high wears off,  it's not inconceivable that the most wanted man in the city will resurface during peak hours on Friday or Saturday when there's lots of money floating around downtown and enough foot traffic to throw off police dogs.


Clearly, the Mounties are up against it here and dealing with an experienced criminal. Possibly even prolific. The encouraging news is that after each incident, they pick up more clues and more descriptors. Acne's a dead giveaway. Perhaps they'll catch him before he strikes again, like while casing a business.


But somewhere, some place, he's going to slip-up and then it'll be over. For now.


Ironically, this guy could be the national poster boy for legalizing drugs. Instead, the community has to pick up the tab to maintain his habit.

Chilliwack RCMP are asking anyone who may have information regarding these robberies to contact them at 604-492-4611, or should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-847 (TIPS).



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