Similar-looking suspect robs two west Ottawa restaurants

Two Wellington West restaurants were robbed within an hour of each other, apparently by the same man.

Suspect asked to use the bathroom before stealing money, personal items

This man, who was caught on camera in the process of robbing one Ottawa restaurant, was recognized by the owner of a nearby restaurant robbed about an hour before. (Photo courtesy Petit Bill's Bistro)

Ottawa police are investigating the robberies of two Ottawa restaurants on Monday night, both happening while they were still open.

Petit Bill’s Bistro and Supply and Demand in Ottawa’s West Wellington neighbourhood said someone who appears to be the same man robbed them within an hour of each other.

Jennifer Wall, the co-owner of Supply and Demand on Wellington Street West, said a man walked into their restaurant around 8 p.m. and asked to use the washroom.

"He helped himself down the stairs then proceeded to break into my locked office," she said, adding that he jammed the door closed once inside.

After taking more than $2,000, Wall said the man walked upstairs, thanked the hostess and left.

Suspect caught on camera at second restaurant

Owners at the nearby Petit Bill’s Bistro said they experienced a similar incident shortly thereafter,

"He asked if he could use the washroom, was gone for a couple of minutes, came back upstairs and asked if there was a place he could buy smokes and said he'd be back," said Randy Fitzpatrick.

"He didn't come back."

Petit Bill’s said they got a photo of the suspect from a surveillance camera while he was in the process of searching through some coats and shared it with Wall.

"Oh, we’re positive (it’s the same man)," she said. "We all got a really good look at this guy."

Police: it's 'unusual' for busy restaurants to be robbed

Ottawa police said it’s unusual to see this kind of break-in at restaurants.

"It’s sort of a brazen crime ... where there's the potential for a lot of witnesses, people can be around that can intervene," said Sgt. James McGarry.

Police said the suspect was driving a blue truck and armed with a knife.

Wall said she’s considering installing security cameras and won’t allow non-customers to use their washrooms going forward.