Surrey RCMP and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) have upped the ante in their quest to capture the culprit behind a recent rash of robberies targeting ATM customers.
Police Friday released security-camera images and announced a $10,000 reward in the hopes of identifying a suspect they’re describing as the “surgical mask bandit.”
It’s believed the individual is responsible for six robberies that occurred in White Rock and South Surrey between May 12 and June 2.
“Our investigators now believe the same suspect might be responsible,” Cpl. Bert Paquet said in a statement Friday afternoon.
The Surrey robberies took place on May 23 and 25, as well as two on June 2.
One victim told Peace Arch News that he was targeted at the TD Canada Trust located at 152 Street and 26 Avenue – a machine he had chosen to use after hearing about the earlier White Rock incidents.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said he was at the ATM around 9:15 p.m. May 23 when “I saw this guy walking into the bank with a mask and a gun.”
He was dressed in a hoodie, a checkered shirt and work-boot-type shoes, and was wearing a baseball cap, the man said. The mask did not cover his eyes.
“He basically said, ‘I want you to withdraw $500 from your account.’ It was somewhat surreal because I had read about the other instances. I thought it was part of a movie, except it was real.”
Once the cash was withdrawn, the robber took it and calmly walked out of the bank, the man said.
Police say they have similar descriptions of the suspect in the other robberies: a white male in his mid 20s, approximately six feet tall, with a medium build, wearing a surgical mask and a baseball hat.
A handgun was produced in some of the incidents but was never used, Paquet said. The other Surrey robberies occurred at institutions at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre, at 24 Avenue and 160 Street and at 186 Street and Fraser Highway
The White Rock robberies occurred on May 12 and 14; one at the TD Canada Trust in the 15100-block of North Bluff Road and the other at the Royal Bank in the 15000-block of North Bluff Road.
The cash reward is being offered by the CBA, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
Paquet said the association came to police with the offer.
“It’s definitely a good incentive for someone who might be aware who the suspect is to come forward with information,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP’s Robbery Section at 604-599-0502 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
Police are also advising citizens that if they find themselves targeted by a robber, to remain calm and co-operative. Never assume the perpetrator isn’t armed and try to pay close attention to what they look like. Call police as soon as it is safe to do so.
– with files from Sarah Massah