Langley dispatcher eavesdrops on robbery

A 19-year-old Langley woman and 25-year-old North Vancouver woman are facing robbery charges after a fairly violent robbery at a Willoughby tanning salon that was overheard by a Langley dispatch operator on Thursday.

At around 4 p.m., two young women entered a tanning salon in the 8500 block of 200 Street and approached the receptionist.

The women discussed the various tanning packages available and then they asked to see the tanning beds. After they viewed the beds, the two left the store.

The receptionist felt their behavior was somewhat suspicious so she took some time to review the surveillance footage from the store and discovered one of the two women had shoplifted some earrings while standing at the front counter.

The receptionist then called police to report the theft, said Langley RCMP.

While on the phone, one of the two women re-entered the store yelling and screaming, carrying a large knife above her head.

She demanded the victim give her everything, including her own purse, phone and money from the till.

Once the items had been turned over, the employee was ordered to the ground. The female robber ran from the store to her waiting friend and the two fled on foot, said Langley RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Holly Marks.

Since the clerk was on the phone with Langley dispatch listening to the robbery take place, police were en route immediately, said Marks.

Dispatch operators called nearby businesses and provided them with descriptions of the two women, asking that they report to police if the two suspects were seen.

A short time later police received a call from one of these businesses reporting they had seen two females matching the descriptions getting into a cab nearby.

Dispatch made contact with the taxi company to find out the location of the cab, however the company encountered a language barrier with their driver, said Marks.

A  Punjabi speaking Langley RCMP officer made contact directly with the driver and was able to obtain their location, unbeknownst to the driver’s occupants.

Langley officers stopped the cab in the 18600 block of 88 Avenue in Surrey and two women were arrested without incident, said Marks.

Shianne Halls, 19, of Langley and Ashli Sylvestre, 25, of North Vancouver both stand charged with one count of robbery and one count of theft under $5,000.

They were held in custody over the weekend and were scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

“The apprehension of these two women can be directly attributed to the positive partnership between police and the business community,” said Marks.

“Businesses watching out for each other and willing to report suspicious activity to police stops crime in its tracks, or in this case, in a taxi.”

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