Vancouver police arrest two suspects after series of distraction thefts from seniors

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      Numerous scams and thefts targeting seniors have been taking place across the Lower Mainland this summer, with several warnings issued by police departments in various municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

      In Vancouver, a series of distraction thefts have been taking place in East and South Vancouver, including a 77-year-old woman, despite resisting a woman who approached her, who was robbed in her backyard in Cedar Cottage on July 20. 

      In each of these cases, a male or female would approach and try to give fake jewellery to elderly victims, particularly visible minorities, while they were in their yards or walking on the street. While the victims were distracted, the suspects would steal their real jewellery.  

      On the afternoon of September 4, a male and female began interacting with a 69-year-old man and then allegedly stole his necklace.

      Officers arrested the two individuals—23-year-old Petre Alexandru and an 18-year-old Gratiela Stoian—near Kerr Street and East 49th Avenue.

      After the arrest, detectives recovered jewellery, and returned some of them to their owners.

      Both have been charged with one count each of jewellery theft. They will remain in custody until their next appearance in provincial court on September 9.

      The investigation remains ongoing and police are anticipating that more charges will be recommended.

      Depsite the arrest, police are reminding citizens to remain wary of unknown individuals approaching them. 

      “This is a significant development in this major case, and our detectives are confident these individuals are connected to other distraction thefts in the city,” VPD spokesperson Const. Steve Addison stated in a news release. “We still remind seniors to remain vigilant, and not to let strangers into their personal space.”

      Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call VPD Major Crime Section at 604-717-2541 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

      Meanwhile, North Vancouver RCMP have identified a male suspect believed to be responsible for several thefts from seniors in Vancouver, West Vancouver, and North Vancouver.

      Donald Robert Quinnell, a 52-year-old man from Chilliwack, is wanted for nine charges in North Vancouver, with more charges expected in West Vancouver and Vancouver, and on an outstanding Canada-wide warrant for breach of probation.

      The VPD previously arrested 41-year-old Elena Ghiocel and 31-year-old Constantin Miclescu of Scarborough, Ontario, after six distraction thefts took place in South Vancouver on March 20 and 21. 

      For those interested in learning about how to protect yourself, Burnaby RCMP’s Crime Prevention Unit will be offering a presentation on personal safety and robbery prevention from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on September 12 at the Tommy Douglas Public Library (7311 Kingsway, Burnaby). 

      The session will cover current trends, including hazards on web-based sales (such as Craigslist, Kijiji, and more), and what to do and not do during and after a robbery. To register, call 604-522-3971 or visit the library website.