The regional crime unit has nabbed several prolific criminals thought to be contributing to a recent spike in auto crimes on the West Shore.
The first arrest was linked to a credit card stolen from a truck on Gade Road in Langford on Sept. 25, and used nine times before the owner canceled it that morning.
RCU commander Staff Sgt. Gary Schenk said investigators went to each of the nine businesses to obtain video surveillance. The suspect was arrested a few days later.
“We recognized immediately who was responsible,” he said. “It was somebody our unit has arrested before. It’s a consistent pattern of behaviour.”
The RCU also raided a house in Highlands linked to the suspect, and recovered stolen property and arrested two females who participated in using the stolen credit card.
Robert Iverson, 33, is charged with possession of a stolen credit card, two counts of fraud and nine counts of possession of stolen property. He is in custody and has a Oct. 20 court date.
Jennifer Hermans, 32, and Denise Ferguson, 33, are also facing fraud charges. Schenk suspects Iverson will face more charges as stolen property is catalogued and owners contacted.
Last week RCU officers also arrested another habitual criminal after two credit cards and a debit card were stolen from a car at Goldstream park on Sept. 25. The debit card had its PIN number written nearby.
The suspect used the debit card at the Shell gas station on Spencer Road, tried and failed to take money from an ATM at the Bank of Montreal on Goldstream Avenue and used it again at a Cadboro Bay pharmacy.
Schenk recognized the man from video immediately — the RCU had arrested him three times in two years.
“His probation officer gave us a 100 per cent positive ID,” Schenk said. They arrested the suspect when he dutifully kept his scheduled appointment with the probation officer.
Michael Dubensky, 33, is charged with theft and possession or use of a stolen credit card. He is of no fixed address and was released from prison in June. He remains in custody and has an Oct. 20 court date.
Schenk said the recent arrests should put a dent in the spike of West Shore auto crime, but warned that other known habitual criminals are on the prowl.
“Certainly we think these individuals are responsible for more thefts than they are charged with, but by no means are they responsible for all of (the recent auto thefts),” Schenk said. “There are others out there, and we are shifting our investigation to them.”
The West Shore has seen a rash of vehicle break-ins in the past month, some for as little as a few quarters in an ashtray.
RCMP recorded about 70 auto crime cases in September, 25 in the last week alone, mainly in Langford, Colwood and to a lesser extent, View Royal. Many cars were reportedly hit in the Triangle Mountain area. The average for the year was 40 per month.
“There’s been lots of them, a lot more than normal in the past three or four weeks,” said RCMP Cpl. Cory Bayda. “Generally it’s stuff in plain view. It’s a little frustrating. It all happens because people aren’t taking valuables out of their vehicles.”
Bayda said most of the thefts are from vehicles parked in driveways and on the street, but there are a few cases of thieves gaining access to secured underground garages.
“People leave things in their car they feel aren’t worth stealing, but we’ve seen where thieves will put a brick through a window for minor things, like a pair of sunglasses,” Bayda said.
He stressed that people need to report theft, even if it seems minor.
“Reporting it definitely helps. If we suddenly get five or six reports from the same area, it may be a pattern and we can target the area,” Bayda said.
“Reporting it gives us a more accurate reflection of what’s happening out there.”