B.C. police nab 'Nephew Bandit' suspected of conning seniors across Canada
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 1:12PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 22, 2013 11:49PM EDT
Police in British Columbia have arrested the so-called “Nephew Bandit,” who investigators allege travelled the country conning senior citizens out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be his victims’ relative.
Vancouver Police say they arrested Richard Earl Rupert at a local hospital Wednesday afternoon after an exhaustive, five-year cross-Canada search by multiple police forces.
Rupert, 57, was arrested on 18 warrants issued by police forces in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The warrants list numerous charges including fraud, break and enter, robbery, attempted fraud and theft under $5,000.
On Thursday, Vancouver Police Sgt. Randy Fincham told reporters that, in June, Rupert entered a local hospital for medical reasons under an assumed name: Jerry Whitehead. According to Fincham, a staff member recognized Rupert from a wanted poster that had been circulating and called police.
He was arrested at 3:30 p.m. local time and remains in police custody, Fincham said.
“There are a number of victims across Canada that are sleeping easier knowing that this person is now in custody,” Fincham said.
Rupert earned his nickname from his modus operandi: he often pretended to be a relative of his victims in order to get them to hand over cash. His victims were between the ages of 78 and 95.
One Toronto victim, an 81-year-old grandmother who did not wish to be identified, told CTV News three years ago that the suspect told her he was helping the son of the owner of her apartment building collect the rent. He convinced her to go to a bank and withdraw cash. After escorting her back to the building, the suspect grabbed the cash and fled.
“He’s a coward,” the victim told the media at the time of the incident, in January 2010.
Months after that incident, Rupert was profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
He proved difficult for police to track down because he had no fixed address, did not use credit cards or a cellphone, and did not have a bank account or a driver’s licence.
Police believe Rupert criss-crossed the country by bus or train, looking for victims.
"He's become very good at blending into the daily business traffic, where people would be unsuspecting or wouldn't be looking for him," Toronto Police Det. John Dunlop told CTV’s W5 two years ago. "He's very good at blending in."
Fincham said Vancouver Police will request that Rupert remain in their custody given his history of “evading police.”
He said Vancouver Police will want the local warrants dealt with first, before they consider handing Rupert over to investigators in other provinces.
Fincham also said Vancouver Police are probing incidents dating back to 2010, but will investigate any tips and leads related to other alleged crimes from any time. They will also probe whether other alleged crimes were committed under the name Jerry Whitehead, including while he was a patient at the hospital.
“This person has a pattern of having very elusive behaviour, where he managed to change his name, change his identify and move from city to city and province to province within Canada to avoid being captured by the police,” Fincham said. “There is a possibility that prior to this man coming onto our radar and this investigation starting, that he may have committed other offences, and of course that’s something we’ll look at.”
Fincham would not comment on the nature of Rupert’s medical problem or reveal his current medical status.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s John Musselman