SURREY RCMP announced Wednesday that a 15-year-old male from Surrey has been charged with four counts of robbery in relation to a series of cell phone store robberies that occurred earlier this year in the City Centre and Newton areas.
“While this is great news for many businesses in our community, our investigation into these robberies is still very active,” said Cpl. Bert Paquet. “Our officers are now focusing their efforts on bringing further criminal charges against other persons believed to be involved in these offences.”
In April, Surrey RCMP had appealed to the public for help in identifying suspects who could be responsible for a number of daytime robberies in March and April at cell phone stores.
There were four robberies at cell phones stores in the City Centre and Newton areas of Surrey.
On March 25 a store located in the 12800 block of 96th Avenue was robbed by two suspects. On April 3 and 11, a store located in the 8300 block of 128th Street was robbed, and on April 17, a fourth robbery occurred at a store in the 13500 block of 88th Avenue.
Due to the similarities of these incidents, investigators believe these crimes are related with at least one of the suspects being responsible for all four incidents. This suspect was described as a Caucasian male, in his early 20’s, wearing dark clothing, ball cap, and hooded sweater. Police released a surveillance photo of the suspect in the hopes of identifying him.
“Our Robbery Unit continues to advance these investigations by identifying persons of interest and interviewing numerous witnesses,” said Paquet said back in April. “Information from the public surrounding those responsible or their associates, however, would assist greatly us in our efforts.”
Cellphone store owner Rob Riarh told a newspaper back then that he has 27 stores across B.C. and Alberta and the only problem has been in Surrey where he has lost almost $70,000 worth of merchandise in three recent robberies.
Anyone with more information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP Robbery Section at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477.
RCMP had also pointed out that these robbery series serves as a warning to individuals purchasing mobile phones online and through means other than licensed sellers. The phones that were stolen in this series were immediately deactivated by the business owner, which in effect rendered them useless for anyone attempting to activate them afterwards.
“As a customer, always do your due diligence and be weary of meeting up with unknown persons for purchasing of these items,” said Paquet. “If you are purchasing a phone, check the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number on the phone at www.protectyourdata.ca to ensure it has not been reported lost or stolen in Canada.”
Investigators have also been engaged with local businesses that sell cell phones to encourage them to consider extra security measures including video surveillance systems and a locked door or buzzer system for their customers.