Smiling thief caught on camera

This smiling thief was photographed by numerous people after stealing items from a woman’s van on Sunday, Oct. 21 and being confronted by their owner. Police are seeking more information about the man. - Submitted photo
This smiling thief was photographed by numerous people after stealing items from a woman’s van on Sunday, Oct. 21 and being confronted by their owner. Police are seeking more information about the man.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Everything these days is caught on camera, including the actions of a brazen thief who smiled for a crowd of good Samaritans who snapped pictures of the man after he was caught breaking into a local teacher’s truck in Walnut Grove on Sunday, Oct. 21.

The Langley woman wants to warn others about the brazen thief, who chatted with customers in a store before stealing from her truck and then denying it after being caught red-handed.

Around 2:30 p.m., Trudy Larouche and her teenage daughter were shopping at a dollar store in an 88 Avenue shopping complex. Larouche remembers seeing an overly-friendly man who looked a little scruffy. He was chatting with customers and opening doors for them. At some point he left the store.

As Larouche went to her truck, which was parked within view of the inside of the store, she saw the same man sneaking out of the back door of her truck. Larouche did a double take but then realized yes, the man had been inside her truck.

“I yelled ‘stop’ but he continued walking,” she said. “I ran around in front of him and said ‘you were in my truck.’’’

The man said he hadn’t been.

That’s when Larouche noticed he was carrying about $500 worth of items from inside her truck in his arms, including a package addressed to her mom.

At that point she said “those are my things, give them back.”

The man continued to claim they were his and that’s when the school teacher decided to start screaming for help, saying that she was being robbed.

Her daughter didn’t know what to do, so she ran back into the store and asked for help.

Larouche said within seconds, a crowd started to gather around him and he realized he was outnumbered.

He threw her things on the ground and got into his van, she said.

The people who had come out to help all pulled out their cellphones to call police but also to take pictures of the culprit and his mini-van he was driving. They also got his licence plate number.

Pictures of the suspect show him boldly smiling for the good Samaritans.

“This experience has made me realize a few things,” said Larouche. “Technology is a beautiful thing and the good people of this world will step up to defend you when you are in trouble,” she said.

It wasn’t until the following day that she realized the thief did make off with a $400 ski jacket she was going to return that day.

The suspect is described as around 45 years old, 5’10” tall, short red hair, gruff facial hair, glasses, diamond stud in left ear, slim, wearing a lumberjack jacket and blue jeans. He was driving a champagne coloured Astro minivan.

Larouche has learned that the suspect is known to hang around coffee hours at local churches and meal services at Salvation Army.

If you have any information about this man or have had similar run-ins, call Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200.

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