A rash of gas station and convenience-store robberies throughout Surrey – including South Surrey – since Sept. 24 is prompting police to ask for the public’s help to identify suspects before the crimes can escalate into potentially violent situations.
“It’s only a matter of time before we’re dealing with a larger crime instead of a theft,” Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet warned Thursday.
Paquet noted the robberies – which have struck most areas of the city – have typically taken place in the 3-6 a.m. time period and the robbers have primarily focused on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Similarity of the crimes leads police to believe the same two people are responsible for all of them – in the majority of cases, the robbers have backed a stolen Dodge Caravan into the businesses’ locked front doors to break them open.
A media release describes the suspects as five-foot-nine to six-foot-two white males weighing 180 to 200 lbs.
Paquet said that while no store employees have been harmed thus far, physical intimidation and threats of violence have been used – and in one instance one of the robbers brandished a knife.
“These are property crimes right now and nobody has been hurt,” Paquet said. “But these people will not stop until they’re caught. We’re trying to do that before someone gets hurt.”
Paquet said that while the thieves have sometimes helped themselves to other items including lottery tickets, “we believe tobacco products are the motivation behind the robberies.”
And that, in itself, gives additional hope of catching up with the suspects, he added – as well as forensic and surveillance evidence and witness descriptions police have already gathered.
“We’re sure that there is someone out there with information who has not spoken with us yet,” he said.
“Based on the quantity of cigarettes being taken, we believe they’re being sold to an unidentified commercial buyer who is reselling them,” Paquet said.
“We need to hear from anyone who knows about this illegal trade. It’s possible that someone does not know about the high risks involved in these robberies.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.solvecrime.ca