After a nearly three-month spree that left businesses on edge, Coquitlam Mounties have caught the man they believe is responsible for a string of robberies in the Austin Heights area.
Ryan Sheldon McClinton, 28, is facing nearly two-dozen charges related to the robberies.
He was charged back on Nov. 7.
Investigators caught a break in the case after an Oct. 28 robbery where the suspect left a backpack behind at the scene. That backpack revealed clues that eventually led to the arrest of McClinton.
He is now facing 22 charges including seven for robbery, seven for using an imitation firearm while committing an offence, seven for using a disguise with intent to commit an offence and one charge of possession of stolen property.
The first of a string of robberies began at the start of August. The thief originally targeted a coffee shop, store and pharmacy.
In one case, the suspect may have brandished a gun. A week later, a suspect targeted four other businesses.
In all, police believe the same suspect was responsible for a total of nine robberies, linking the incidents based on the suspect's appearance. The thief wore a hoodie, balaclava and gloves during the mid-summer robberies.
The last two robberies came at the end of October.
Catching the robber was a top priority for the detachment.
RCMP Cpl. Jamie Chung said Mounties were able to connect McClinton to seven robberies, but may be able to connect him to more as the investigation continues.
"We're really glad to tell the business owners of Austin Heights that we have [allegedly] caught him and he now has to face justice," he said.
News of the alleged robber's arrest was greeted with relief in the business community.
"They're all just feeling pretty happy this individual is behind bars," said Erin Davidson, the Austin Height Business Improvement Association's executive director.
She said the robberies caused significant angst among the entire business community.
However, she also suggested lessons were learned from the robberies, noting individual businesses have had a chance to review policies and implement extra measures to secure their businesses and keep employees safe.
The BIA is also considering starting a Business Watch program.
As for McClinton, who was living in Coquitlam, he will remain in custody until his next court appearance on Nov. 28.
The 28-year-old is no stranger to the courts. A person with the same name who was born in the same year has a criminal history dating back to 2003 within the Tri-Cities and the Lower Mainland, including convictions for similar robbery offences in Port Moody in 2004 and in New Westminster in 2005.
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