A couple suspected of using a baby as a prop in distraction thefts in Langley and other communities have been arrested in Mission.
The Langley RCMP warned local residents about the scam earlier this month. The man and woman had apparently followed multiple elderly residents home from local grocery stores.
The thieves would then ask for something for the baby, usually hot water to warm up a babyâ€™s bottle or water for their vehicleâ€™s radiator.
When the seniors were distracted valuables or wallets would vanish from within the house.
On June 11 just before 5 p.m., Mission RCMP received a call from a local man who said his 72-year-old mother had been approached at her home by a man and woman with a baby.
The couple said they needed water for their broken-down vehicle, but the woman had recently seen a local news report about the scam, and she watched them closely and didnâ€™t give them an opportunity to steal anything.
The residents then called the RCMP and gave a description of the suspects, their mini-van, and the license plate number.
â€œThe coverage of this series of thefts by the local media and the alertness of these residents were instrumental in assisting police in apprehending these suspects,â€ said Mission RCMP Sgt. Shaun Wright.
An hour later, a 73-year-old in Deroche east of Mission call the police and reported a couple in a grey van, with a baby, had stopped looking for water for their vehicle. He got them the water, and later noticed that his wifeâ€™s purse had been stolen.
Less than 10 minutes after the report, RCMP officers spotted a vehicle matching the description from both incidents. The van was stopped around Horne Street and the Lougheed Highway, and both adults were arrested.
Donald Quinnell, 47, and Krisztina Krakoszki, both known to police and residents of Abbotsford, were arrested. The Ministry of Children and Families was called to look after the child.
Stolen items, including ID from the victims in Deroche, were found in the van. The van itself had been taken on a â€œtest driveâ€ from a local car dealer.
Both suspects have now been charged with theft under $5,000 and were later released on bail with several conditions on their release.
Mission RCMP are now consulting with other detachments, and the Abbotsford Police are looking into whether the numerous other similar incidents are connected.