North Vancouver RCMP are warning the public about a prolific fraudster who has been targeting elderly victims throughout the North Shore and Metro Vancouver this summer.
Police say Donald Robert Quinnell is suspected of at least nine incidents in North Vancouver alone, and may be linked to several other thefts in West Vancouver and Vancouver.
The incidents in all three municipalities allegedly took place between mid-July and as recently as Wednesday night.
WATCH: (Aug. 23) VPD warns about distraction thefts targeting seniors
RCMP say the 52-year-old Quinnell “presents himself as a well-dressed, well-mannered man in his 40s or 50s” who approaches elderly people in grocery stores or outside their homes, pretending to either need or offer help.
After gaining their trust, Quinnell then allegedly works his way into the victim’s car or home and steals their wallets, purses or other valuables.
“He convinces his victims to either give or receive kindness, which seems a very lovely thing,” North Vancouver RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Peter DeVries said in a release. “But then he uses their goodness as a distraction so he can steal their belongings.
RCMP say investigators have been working with police in Vancouver and West Vancouver to locate Quinnell and approve multiple charges against him in all three municipalities, which can’t happen until the suspect is arrested.
Vancouver police have confirmed they are investigating similar cases of fraud involving a suspect with a similar description to Quinnell’s, but would not confirm whether Quinnell is suspected.
In the meantime, police are warning elderly people to remain vigilant, and to contact local police if they see Quinnell or observe anything suspicious.
“It makes us angry that we have to tell the public they need to think twice before giving or accepting kindness from strangers,” DeVries said. “That’s not the kind of society we’re all trying to cultivate.
“Knowing this guy is watching the elderly in order to find his next victim, we hope everyone else will also be watching for this guy, and keeping a close eye on the elderly in our community.”
Quinnell is described as a Caucasian male with a light to medium complexion, six-feet-one-inch in height and 190 pounds, with short brown hair and brown eyes.
Police say he may be wearing glasses or a ball cap and is usually well-dressed or well-groomed.
This is not the first time Quinnell has been the subject of a police warning.
In 2006, Langley RCMP described him as a “con man” who would ask receptionists at local businesses for water, then go behind their desks for their purses while they’re not looking.
— With files from Aaron McArthur