The Calgary Police Service has released photographs of a suspect and a suspect vehicle in connection with recent robbery attempts in Calgary, Edmonton and Leduc targeting women who advertise their services online.

In the early evening hours of Monday, June 5, a woman met with a man in a hotel room in the 2800 block of Sunridge Way Northeast after the two had been in contact via text message in connection with an online ad. The man proceeded to identify himself as a police officer and indicated he had a search warrant for drugs. The woman demanded a badge number and the suspect responded by grabbing and pushing her. The suspect fled the business after the victim told him to call for backup.

“She actually called his buff and said if you’re really a police officer, go and get more resources,” said Acting Staff Sergeant Andy Woodwald of the Calgary Police Service.

The woman followed the man into the parking lot and took a photo as he drove away in an older model, black Volkswagen Jetta.

The suspect is described as:

  • A man believed to be of Middle Eastern descent
  • Being in his 20s
  • Approximately 173 to 178 cm (5’8” to 5’10”) tall
  • Having a slim to medium build
  • Having short black hair

At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing a long sleeved shirt and a black vest adorned with the word ‘POLICE’ under a dark blue jacket. “He is carrying what we believe to be a full utility belt, which we carry, with handcuffs, a baton and a gun,” said Woodwald. “He’s only ever used the handcuffs.”

Police believe the man responsible for the June 5 suspected robbery attempt committed two similar robberies in Calgary this spring:

  • April 11, 2017: A woman was handcuffed and robbed of her cellphone by a man wearing a ‘POLICE’ vest after meeting the man at a business in the 2500 block of 48 Avenue NE in Calgary
  • March 25, 2017: A woman was robbed of her debit card, cellphone, cash and a laptop by a man wearing a ‘POLICE’ vest after meeting the man at a business in the 800 block of 12 Avenue SW in Calgary

“At the moment, it’s a total of $10,000 he’s had from sex trade workers (in Calgary).”

Woodwald says, in addition to the three robbery attempts in Calgary, there have been two similar robberies in Leduc and one in Edmonton. Surveillance video recordings of the suspect suggests the offences are linked. “We’ve got CCTV footage which is quite clear that it is the same guy and the MO (modus operandi) is exactly the same”

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect is asked to contact the Calgary Police Service, 403-266-1234, or anonymous tips may be submitted to Crime Stoppers.

With files from CTV's Kamil Karamali