The hunt for a callous con man: Richard Rupert
Victor Malarek, W5 Senior Reporter
Published Saturday, February 5, 2011 6:55PM EST
Richard Earl Rupert is not one of Canada's 10 most wanted criminals. He'd probably not even make it on the top 100!
But he is certainly at the top of Toronto detective John Dunlop's list of most wanted.
A soft-spoken, easy going cop, Dunlop has made Rupert into somewhat of an obsession. He desperately wants is to nail the man and put him behind bars for a long, long time.
You see, Dunlop loathes low-life criminals who prey on the most vulnerable citizens in society -- the elderly. And Rupert is such a low-life.
Dubbed the "nephew bandit," Rupert has stolen thousands of dollars from dozens of seniors across Canada-- many in their 90s -- after claiming on most occasions to be a distant relative -- often a nephew.
The thing is, as W5 learned, catching the wily career criminal has proven to be a colossal and highly frustrating ordeal for police right across the country.
What makes catching Rupert a challenge is that he is a loner who hangs out on the fringes of society. He hides out in shadowy places where few notice him come and go. He has no fixed address, no close family to speak of, no credit cards, no bank account and no driver's license. He has never filed a tax return.
In other words, he leaves no paper trail for the police to follow. Rupert lives totally off the grid.
When he does surface, he simply melts into the background of every day street life. It's a disappearing act the 54-year-old has mastered over decades.
"He's become very good at blending into the daily business traffic, where people would be unsuspecting or wouldn't be looking for him," Dunlop explained. "He's very good at blending in."
Quite a feat given for a man whose mug shot has been plastered across the front pages of news papers and aired on television newscasts across Canada. He's even been featured on a segment of America's Most Wanted.
But the most irritating thing for Dunlop is that while Rupert has been caught numerous times on video surveillance cameras, the images are only discovered long after he has lef the scene.
Dunlop's first spotted Rupert's image came in 2009 when he was called in to investigate a robbery of an 81-year-old woman.
"He approached her and convinced her that he was with building management, and says ‘pay an advance payment on your rent, you'll get a discount'," the detective recounted.
Rupert accompanied the woman to the bank where she withdrew the money but she didn't hand it over right away.
"They walk out of the bank and on the way back to the retirement home, she gets a little suspicious," Dunlop said. "In the lobby she says to him, ‘if you're with management, you open the door.' And then he realized, she's on to me and that's when he attacks."
There was a struggle for the purse. Rupert grabbed the cash, shoved the woman down onto a bench and bolted out the door.
The violence and callousness of that push got under Dunlop's skin, and for more than a year, he's been doggedly pursuing his quarry.
Shortly after American's Most Wanted episode aired, Dunlop's crew got a tip and raced out to a Toronto rooming house. But they arrived a few minutes too late. The thief had fled. All the cops managed to get was a toothbrush that Rupert had left behind.
Police has since learned that Rupert is always on the move, and his primary mode of transportation is the bus ferrying him along the TransCanada Highway. Police believe he has targeted seniors in Ottawa, London, Winnipeg, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Vancouver and Nanaimo.
Back in Toronto detectives keep tabs on Rupert's movements. Every incident telling the cops something new about his methods ...
"It's definitely a challenge, but we remain committed and I'm committed. And I'm getting all the support needed to continue to search for him because he's targeting the most vulnerable of our communities and it's critical that we catch him," Dunlop said.
He and police right across Canada hope that the W5 episode will finally flush out the ever elusive nephew bandit.
Detective John Dunlop of the Toronto Police has this message for W5 viewers:
"If anyone has any information or would like to report an incident where they have been victimized to contact their local Police and have the incident investigated. If they do have the occasion to see Rupert, not to approach and call the emergency line of their local Police.
"Anyone with information can contact their local police or Toronto Police Service-32 Division directly at (416) 808-3200, Crime Stoppers anonymously in their local area or Toronto Crimestoppers at (416)-222-TIPS (8477), on-line at www.222tips.com or text TOR and your message to CRIMES 274637)."
Toronto Police Service - 416-808-2222
Toronto Police Service - 32 Division - 416-808-3200