Vancouver police have arrested a man suspected of being the "Nephew Bandit," who allegedly travelled across Canada stealing thousands of dollars from seniors by pretending to be a relative.
Richard Earl Rupert, 57, was taken into custody at a Vancouver hospital Wednesday afternoon after a long and exhaustive cross-country search by multiple police forces.
"Last night's arrest brings relief to both his victims and police agencies across Canada as an elusive predator has now been put behind bars," Vancouver police spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham said.
Rupert is alleged to have befriended seniors in retirement homes, claiming to be a distant relative, usually a nephew. Police say he then persuaded his victims — some in their 90s — to give him money for travel, car repairs or rent.
Frail and elderly targeted
Julius Voros, 82, said he was a victim of the alleged "Nephew Bandit" in August 2010 when a man knocked on his door and told him the rent in his Vancouver apartment building had been increased.
"He say, 'You can give me money. I'm going to deposit it,' " Voros told CBC News. "I give him the money, he say 'thank you' and he disappeared."
Voros said he was very sick at the time and didn't argue with the man, giving him $150 on the spot.
At least three or four others were targeted in his West End seniors housing complex, he said, but not all of them have come forward out of embarrassment.
Security cameras have since been installed in the building, Voros said.
In April, RCMP put out a warning for seniors after a 92-year-old woman in Langley, B.C., gave $1,800 to a man who convinced her that he was the son of her friend.
Louise Naef said the man stopped her outside a grocery store and promised his mother would repay her.
18 warrants in three provinces
For years, Rupert was wanted in connection with more than 20 incidents across the country, including in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Eighteen arrest warrants were issued by police forces in three Canadian provinces.
In 2010, Rupert was featured on a television episode of America's Most Wanted but remained elusive until June, when he checked into a Vancouver hospital under the assumed name of Jerry Whitehead.
A hospital staff member recognized Rupert from a wanted poster and called police.
Rupert has been arrested on the following warrants:
- Five counts of fraud, Vancouver Police Department.
- Fraud, Victoria Police Department.
- Fraud, New Westminster Police Department.
- Fraud, White Rock RCMP.
- Two counts of fraud, Langley RCMP.
- Fraud, personation and theft, Durham Regional Police Service.
- Fraud, Niagara Regional Police.
- Fraud, London Police Service.
- Fraud, Medicine Hat Police Service.
- Two counts of fraud and two counts of theft under $5,000, Hamilton Police Services.
- Fraud, Waterloo Regional Police Service.
- Two counts of fraud and one count of personation, Ottawa Police Service.
- Robbery, break and enter, and three counts of attempted fraud, Toronto Police Service.