Posted in News

Recent sexual assaults prompt RCMP action

RCMP develops task force to investigate string of sexual assaults on Burnaby

A map showing four of the five sexual assaults that have happened in Burnaby. - Photo courtesy of CKNW.com
A map showing four of the five sexual assaults that have happened in Burnaby. - Photo courtesy of CKNW.com

Since Jan. 29 of this year, five sexual assaults have occurred on Burnaby Mountain and in the greater Burnaby area, prompting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to form an official task force to investigate. According to Staff Sergeant Major John Buis, a sexual assault spree of this calibre has never before happened in the Burnaby area.

The assaults first began on Jan. 29, then occurred on Feb. 18, March 1, March 5, and March 6.

During the March 1 attack, an unknown male attacked a woman on Springer Avenue while she was walking home from a Hastings street bus stop at 1:55 a.m. Approaching her from behind, he attempted to pull her into the bushes.

Fortunately, she was able to fight him off, causing him to flee northbound. The suspect is described as a caucasian male, taller than 5’8” with a medium build, and wearing dark clothing.

The most recent assault took place in the middle of the day at 2:50 p.m. The suspect, described as a white, 5’7” male wearing a soft dark hoodie, attempted to sexually assault a woman while she was walking on a popular trail near the Lake City Way SkyTrain station. The suspect once again was a stranger to the victim.

Luckily, a man whom the police referred to as a “good samaritan” noticed the attack and was able to scare the man away. Police are in search of the good samaritan, who is estimated to be around 50–60 years old, asking him to come forward to help their investigation. The survivor of this assault is receiving treatment in the hospital.

According to an RCMP police report released on March 7, it is “too early to say if the incidents are linked,” but the “similar characteristics” of the assaults are what prompted the creation of the task force. According to Sergeant Major Buis, the similarities are that “the suspect targeted women who were alone in areas where there were not many people.”

The force is led by investigators from Burnaby’s Serious Crime Section. Additionally, the RCMP has partnered with the Vancouver Police Department, collaborating on recent sexual assault cases.

The RCMP would like to remind Burnaby citizens to be vigilant when walking alone in trails, as well as walking alone at nighttime. Sergeant Major Buis is “confident” that the RCMP will catch the suspect soon. In the meantime, the Community Response Team is increasing bike patrols on trails, and General Duty Officers have partnered with Transit Police to “conduct more, highly visible patrols in and around transit stops and stations at night.”

The Peak reached out to Campus Safety & Security Services to find out more, but they declined to comment.

If you have any tips that may help the investigation, call the Burnaby RCMP Sexual Assault Task Force at (604) 294-7922, or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can call 1-800-222-TIPS. You can also visit their website: www.solvecrime.ca.

advertisement