Saanich RCMP think they've nabbed a key suspect in a string of cigarette thefts, mostly from vehicles that spanned from Vancouver Island to the Interior, including Kamloops.
A 46-year-old Langley man, Christopher Sharafi, was arrested this week in Courtenay in connection with several cigarette thefts. He has been charged with some cases from Vancouver Island, but is also being investigated for at least three similar thefts in Kamloops, said Staff Sgt. Grant Learned.
In the Kamloops incidents, people who owned businesses would buy cigarettes by the case from Costco. They would load their vehicles, then drive somewhere else. When the vehicle was unattended, it was broken into and the cigarettes stolen, Learned said Friday.
Video surveillance and other sources are being reviewed to see if there's any connection with Sharafi.
As Kamloops officers investigated the case, they became aware of similar incidents in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, Learned said.
RCMP units worked together, sharing information that led to the arrest.
Police found links to 28 cases of cigarette thefts from Costco customers in Saanich, Langford, Nanaimo, Burnaby, Abbotsford, Coquitlam and Kamloops. The cigarettes were worth up to $6,300.
Sharafi is charged with 13 offences, including mischief under $5,000, theft under $5,000, possession of stolen property under $5,000, disguise with intent, possession of break-in instruments and failing to comply with condition of recognizance. He is scheduled to appear in Western Communities Provincial Court Monday. Police expect additional charges will be laid.