Update: Suspect images released from the first three robberies (bottom of the page)
The 7-Eleven store at Tillicum and Carey roads was robbed for a fourth time in recent months on Saturday morning.
Saanich police suspect the same man could be responsible for at least three, if not all four, of the robberies. A clerk called police Saturday at 5:45 a.m. to report he had been robbed by a man brandishing a tire iron.
The suspect made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
“Armed robberies are few and far between at the best of times in this day and age. The risks outweigh the benefits,” Sgt. Steve Eassie said. “Most convenience stores have been educated as to how to prevent the loss of large sums of money. What was once a fairly good return for someone committing armed robbery, it is no longer.
“So having multiple incidents occurring within a relatively short time period like this is extremely rare.”
The same convenience store was robbed on June 25, July 15 and Sept. 10 in a similar fashion: a man entered the store in the early morning hours when the clerk was alone, wielding a weapon and demanding cash. A screwdriver was the weapon of choice in the June incident, and a switchblade knife was produced in the other two robberies.
The suspect, a white man approximately 5-foot-10, was wearing a brown hoodie, and his face was masked with a bandana and sunglasses in the robbery on Saturday.
“It’s not known why it’s simply this location. It’s not know why it’s occurred at the same time. It could be that the person that is responsible is comfortable with the neighbourhood, it could be that they have knowledge of the timing when staff are on,” Eassie said, adding that investigators are still working to determine conclusively why this location is being targeted repeatedly.
Eassie said investigators have provided the 7-Eleven owners with some information on how to better prevent similar incidents from occurring, including ensuring employees are never working alone, and possibility of locking the front doors overnight.
“If you have a system where the doors are locked in the evening and it’s up to staff to allow a person in, they can control the flow of people and will be able to physically prevent someone who is disguising himself from being able to enter the store,” he said.
No one has been injured in any of robberies.
Although rare, repeated targeted robberies aren’t unheard of in Victoria. A career criminal robbed a CIBC bank in Colwood three times in a span of three months in 2011. At his sentencing hearing, Lorne Rodway told the court that particular branch was an easy mark due to its setup and surrounding roadways.
Laurie Smith, communications manager for 7-Eleven Canada, says repeat incidents like these are rare for their company, although she wouldn’t comment specifically on the targeted store.
“All 7-Eleven store employees are trained to deal in robbery avoidance to ensure employees and guests are safe,” Smith said. “Employees have personal safety devices and there are numerous tactics in-store such as bright lighting, areas clear of signage and low-cash levels that make the store less attractive to robbers.”
She added that the company regularly reviews safety procedures at individual stores whenever an incident occurs.
On Saturday, patrol officers and a police canine unit were called in but were unable to locate a suspect. Investigators canvassed for witnesses throughout the day Saturday, and forensics investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from the store.
Saanich police are appealing for public help to solve these robberies. Anyone in the Carey/Tillicum area and who observed any suspicious persons between 5:30 6 a.m. on Saturday morning can contact the Saanich police at 250-475-4321.