Port Coquitlam couple arrested for allegedly smashing walls to steal safes

Joint effort by Coquitlam, Burnaby and Surrey RCMP results in charges after several businesses were broken into during the summer

A Port Coquitlam couple is facing multiple charges for daring break-ins to several businesses in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Burnaby and Surrey during which they are suspected to have tunnelled through walls to grab safes and merchandise.

Coquitlam RCMP Prolific Target Team, Surrey RCMP Property Crime Target Team and the Burnaby RCMP Strike Force worked jointly to identify the suspects, using video surveillance to identify the main suspect and obtain search warrants to gather more evidence.

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A wall smashed in to gain entrance.
A wall smashed in to gain entrance. - Coquitlam RCMP

Police say a 43-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman have been arrested and both are residents of Port Coquitlam.

According to the Coquitlam RCMP, the robberies occurred over several weeks in late summer and were reported to different police agencies, prompting a joint investigation Sept. 3.

After the primary suspect was identified via video surveillance, the Coquitlam RCMP Prolific Target Team made the arrests and then used search warrants to gather more evidence, such as stolen commercial safes and tools used to commit multiple offences.

“That’s why it’s so important to have video at these business,” said Const. Deanna Law, media relations officer with the RCMP. “Without it, it’s really hard to identify suspects.” 

A door lock that was broken to gain entrance.
A door lock that was broken to gain entrance. - Coquitlam RCMP

Police credit the joint effort for solving the crimes even though they occurred in multiple jurisdictions.

“Police recognize that criminals work across the Lower Mainland regardless of city borders and we are willing to do the same in order to keep people and property safe,” said Sgt. Keith Schendel with Coquitlam RCMP. “Pooling resources and close communication between agencies helped us recognize the similarities in the offences and identify suspects.”

The PoCo man is facing several charges including eight counts of break and enter and one count of possession of break-in instruments, while the woman is facing two counts of break and enter.

The break-ins are a reminder to businesses to lock up, remove cash and valuable merchandise, illuminate property, keep shrubbery cut back so it doesn’t block windows and doors, secure glass that is less than 100 cm from a door and use fence materials that won’t conceal a criminals’s activities, according to the Coquitlam RCMP.

In addition, business should regularly check locks for drilling or damage, doors for evidence of prying and to ensure video surveillance is working properly.

Always report suspicious behaviour or if you have been a victim of a crime, call your local police. The Coquitlam RCMP non-emergency line is 604-945-1550.

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