Poppy bin bandits arrested in Langley

A man and woman were both taken into custody after a video of donation box thefts was released

A pair of suspected poppy bandits are in custody after a video of the thieves stealing donation trays from a Langley coffee shop was shared with media yesterday.

“Langley’s had a number of thefts of poppy boxes. I’m not exactly sure of the number,” said Langley RCMP Sgt. Barry Beales.

“But there’s been at least five or six that have been reported to us,” he said, noting the thefts have been scattered throughout the community.

One shop in Murrayville, in particular, was hit at least three times – The Joy of Coffee, in Murrayville Square.

Thanks to video surveillance shared from that shop, Mounties were able to hone in their investigation on two suspects – both individuals who are known to local Mounties. Arrests were subsequently made, Beales said.

“It certainly has worked its magic,” the sergeant said of the video, noting release of the video sparked tips from the public that led to the arrests.

A woman was arrested Friday night, and later released on conditions.

“We can’t keep them very long,” Beales said.

Since then, a man has also been arrested, and as of Saturday afternoon he remained in custody, the pair suspected in as many as half a dozen poppy bin thefts in Langley in as many days.

THEFT SEVERAL YEARS BACK: Langley thrift store poppy donation box stolen

The investigation, he explained, is ongoing.

The poppy bins are typically situated near cash registers, encouraging the public to easily deposit a donation into a slot and take a poppy, and Beales doesn’t know if there’s any easy way to better safeguard against such thefts.

“That’s the way it’s been for generations,” Beales added, fearing that “one bad apple seems to have put a real wrench in things. In this case, we had two bad apples that seem to have done – I’m not sure they’ve done them all, but if I was a betting man I’d say all the ones that we’ve had reported are because of two people.”

He acknowledged the theft of these donation boxes has hit a cord with the community.

“This is something near and dear to the public,” he added, grateful for the public’s help in catching the suspected thieves.

Langley RCMP’s Cpl. Craig van Herk, who issued put a plea for help on Friday, was elated to hear news that arrests had been made.

“I’m super excited if we have someone in custody for it,” van Herk shared Saturday afternoon.

“All of the sudden, I’m in a better mood. I’m not going to lie. Yesterday when I came in and I was going to talk about it, I was already mad,” he said, disappointed that there always seems to be some predator out there victimizing those who are trying to help our community’s most vulnerable.

“When I heard this was happening again, I was so angry,” van Herk elaborated. “It’s gross… You might as well be going out and pushing one of our veterans over and taking it straight from them. It’s one of those things that makes me so…” he paused and growled. “But now [knowing] that we have someone in custody, that’s awesome.”

RECENT RCMP STORY: Langley man, 80, with dementia still missing

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roxanne.hooper@langleyadvancetimes.com

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