A Squamish man believed to be behind a string of armed robberies in the Lower Mainland has been arrested.
Since March, Vancouver police, along with West Vancouver Police and Burnaby and North Vancouver RCMP have investigated eight robberies of neighbourhood grocery stores suspected to have been conducted by the same person, the Vancouver Police Department wrote in a statement issued on Friday (Jan. 4).
The last theft, which took place in a North Vancouver Toys “R” Us on Dec. 1 while the store was filled with holiday shoppers, triggered police to issue a public appeal.
“We are concerned that this male is demonstrating an escalating nature of violence and we are concerned for public safety,” Joe Danieli, Vancouver Police General Investigative Unit detective constable, said at a press conference at the time.
On Dec. 21, investigators were contacted by U.S. authorities. Thomas John Schwartz, 68 — also known as Tom Stone — was stopped by U.S. border officials on Dec. 15 as he tried to cross into the U.S. Schwartz was arrested on an outstanding warrant from 1972 relating to allegations of desertion from the U.S. Air Force, the release stated.
When U.S. authorities and Canada's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) started digging into Schwartz's background, they discovered he'd been living in Canada under an assumed name and was under investigation by multiple police agencies for armed robbery, the release noted.
Schwartz has been charged with robbery and weapons-related offences. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are expected, the release stated.
The U.S. citizen remains in custody in the U.S. pending an extradition hearing that's scheduled on March 11.