After a vicious robbery spree that saw nine hold ups in seven days, science and good police work led to an arrest, say Langley RCMP.
Between Feb. 2 and 8, there were nine robberies of Subway restaurants, pizza outlets, and the Willoughby Edible Arrangements location.
It was after the last robbery, on Feb. 8, that the Langley RCMP arrested two suspects, said Insp. Amrik Virk.
Police quickly decided the spree was the work of a single individual or team.
In each robbery, the suspect used bear spray to threaten clerks, and he wore a bandana, baseball cap, and a hoodie.
In four of the robberies, the man fired his bear spray canister as he ran away, and a number of innocent victims had to be decontaminated.
The robberies were not the most lucrative career choice, netting as little as $15 in one theft, and up to $400.
Virk said the man is believed to have held up three stores in one day during the spree.
"This is an inordinate amount in a few days," Virk said.
Police were concerned about the crime spree, not only for the robberies but for the violence and use of bear spray, which can cause painful stinging in eyes and other sensitive tissues.
The Langley RCMP crime analyst worked with the Street Enforcement Unit, and they came up with a profile of the robber, used to predict when and where he might strike next.
On Feb. 8, the RCMP tested that theory as they staked out various Langley restaurants and waited.
That day, the thief hit the Fresh Slice Pizza in North Langley, said Virk.
Police in a plainclothes unit spotted what they believed was their quarry.
"A suspect vehicle was identified," Virk said.
They followed the vehicle south to an Esso gas station at 72nd Avenue and 200th Street.
When the suspect and the woman behind the wheel got out, they were arrested without violence, said Virk.
Items linked to the robberies were found in a search of the vehicle.
Now facing nine charges of robbery is Edward Joseph Biwer, a 22-year-old man from Surrey. He is also facing charges of assault with a weapon and disguise with intent.
Virk said he is very well known to the Langley RCMP, and was an identified prolific offender even before this arrest. In fact, police had warned him that he was on their list as a prolific offender.
Biwer is still in custody and is scheduled to appear in in court next on Feb. 22.
The woman, 31, has not yet been formally charged but the RCMP have also recommended nine counts of robbery be laid against her.
She has been released and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 26.
Although there have been a number of high-profile robberies of Subway sandwich shops in Surrey at the same time as this string of thefts, Virk said the sprees are not thought to be linked.
It appears to be a coincidence that the two strings of robberies, targeting very similar types of restaurants, started at about the same time.