THE armed robbery of a North Vancouver cellphone store on the weekend may be part of a larger spree targeting Lower Mainland Rogers stores, according to police.
Four masked men, one carrying a gun, burst into the Rogers Wireless outlet at 1422 Lonsdale Avenue just before 5 p.m. Saturday and demanded that staff hand over a number of smartphones, said investigators. When the victim complied, the men pepper-sprayed one of them and fled.
Investigators say the suspects were last seen heading west on 15th Street in what was likely a green four-door sedan.
The incident comes on the heels of similar holdups in neighbouring communities, according to the North Vancouver RCMP. Within the past month, Rogers Wireless stores in Coquitlam and Richmond have been targeted by a group of four men who used strikingly similar methods, they said.
"Rogers, I think, is being targeted across the Lower Mainland," said Cpl. Richard De Jong, a spokesman for the detachment.
"We're looking at all potential connections with other recent and historical files."
The men involved in Saturday's incident had fled the scene by the time officers arrived. Despite an extensive search, investigators were unable to find them, said De Jong.
Details about the suspects were minimal, with two men described only as Asian and one as "possibly black" according to police. Witnesses said they all appeared to be in their 20s and all were wearing bandanas to hide their faces. The men reportedly left the scene in a teal green Geo Metro or Pontiac Firefly.
Just nine months ago, the same Lonsdale store was held up in a broadly similar way. On April 13 last year, several men entered the outlet, brandished a weapon and demanded staff hand over
high-end phones. They fled the scene, likely in a vehicle, and police were unable to track them down.
De Jong did not speculate as to whether there was a connection to that case, but said investigators were following up all possible leads.
Anyone with information about the most recent robbery is asked to contact the North Vancouver RCMP at 6049851311.