Saanich Police continue to search for leads in the disturbing sexual assault and robbery case which took place in the 1500 block of Church Avenue last Wednesday.
An unknown male got the attention of two college-aged women by banging loudly on the patio door to their ground floor apartment suite.
The women answered the door believing ”it was going to come off the hinges,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen with Saanich Police.
When they opened the door the male then entered and committed a sexual assault on at least one of the women within the suite. Police wouldn’t say if the attacker assaulted both women. The incident didn’t end there, as the suspect escorted the women to a local bank machine in the Shelbourne corridor.
“Under duress, money was extracted from the girls’ bank accounts, and once turned over they were able to flee,” Jantzen said.
Once free, the women entered the Starbucks at 3600 block of Shelbourne Street, clearly in distress, at just about 8 p.m. Saanich Police were called and were able to make out the series of events. Police used interpreters to speak with the women who know little English.
Despite the release of security footage showing the suspect, Saanich Police were still without any substantial leads as of Monday afternoon.
The suspect is described as a white male, 30 to 40 years of age, five-foot-11, with medium build, unshaven and balding, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, grey or dark sweatpants and light coloured shoes.
The number of tips is in the dozens, while the number of Saanich officers dedicated to the case is also in the dozens.
“We’re getting lots of tips and processing those and our detectives are [still] out talking to people,” Jantzen said. “There is a significant number of detectives assigned, as this requires we check with schools and post secondary schools.”
An entire team of Saanich Police officers are tasked with canvassing the Shelbourne corridor with the “sole job of talking to people in hopes of finding tips, and to provide personal tips for community safety,” Jantzen added.
It’s unknown if the attack is related to a Jan. 26 incident where a young woman was grabbed by a male while walking near Mount Douglas secondary school.
Jantzen said police are working hard to connect the sexual assault to an ongoing string of break and enters in the Shelbourne area that dates back to late November, adding there are several similarities.
“We’re open to anything and everything, given that this is a ground floor suite, there are possible linkages,” he said.
In this instance, it does appear the specific suite was targeted.
Police referred to the incident as a robbery but wouldn’t say what weapons he used. They’re also hoping to secure additional security footage.
“We’re taking this very serious,” Jantzen said. “Our entire general investigation section is at work on this, our detective division, street crimes unit, forensics, K9, it’s upwards of 24 officers. We’re in plain clothes and in uniform in the community area, speaking to schools, university and college campuses, and door to door canvassing.”
The recent string of ground floor apartment break-ins was committed by an unknown suspect who entered through unlocked doors. However, there were also a trio of incidents with witnesses.
On Jan. 6 a resident who returned to find a burglary in progress chased the male suspect out of the apartment and tackled him. The intruder dropped most of the stolen property and fled the scene. The suspect’s description somewhat matched the Jan. 27 sexual assault suspect, described as 30 to 50 years old, shorter than six feet with average build and a full beard.
In a Dec. 1 incident on the 3600 block of Richmond Road, an unidentified male suspect entered through an unlocked sliding glass door to an apartment. The lone female occupant, a 20-year-old woman, encountered the male who took a wallet that was visible on a table and fled.
In an earlier incident, on Nov. 26, an unidentified male suspect knocked repeatedly on a ground-level sliding glass door. When the 20-year-old woman answered the door, the male fled.
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4321, the Saanich Police Tip Line, 250-475-4356, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).