Woman arrested at Vancouver airport may be part of organized theft ring: police

WATCH: Richmond RCMP say they've arrested a foreign national accused of stealing a purse at Vancouver International Airport. As Sarah MacDonald reports, the case is being looked at by several international law enforcement agencies.

A woman arrested for allegedly stealing a purse at Vancouver International Airport Wednesday may be linked to a wider ring of international airport thieves, police said Thursday.

Richmond RCMP said plainclothes investigators witnessed the 60-year-old woman stealing the purse from a passenger in the international arrivals terminal at 10 a.m.

Police said the woman, who is a foreign national, is “believed to be part of a larger, organized theft group travelling from airport to airport.”

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Miriam Fajardo has been charged with theft under $5,000 and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer, the BC Prosecution Service confirmed.

The charges were approved Wednesday ahead of her first court appearance Thursday morning.

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RCMP said several international law enforcement agencies are interested in Fajardo’s arrest, and are working with them to establish possible links with other thefts. The names of those agencies have not yet been disclosed pending additional charges.

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Plainclothes teams from Richmond RCMP’s YVR detachment have been conducting surveillance on thefts at the airport since March, police said, and played an instrumental role in the arrest.

“We are fortunate to have experienced officers that knew exactly what to look for. Their timing was impeccable,” Insp. Keith Bramhill, Richmond RCMP’s YVR operations officer, said in a statement.

“Suspects that specialize in this work generally work in teams and employ techniques to divert attention from their true purpose — to steal valuables away from their owners,” Bramhill added. “They are acute observers of people’s behaviour and their habits. They are often difficult to identify and detect as they are extremely good at their craft.”

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Police are reminding people to keep an extra-close eye on their belongings when travelling, and to report suspicious activity or threats immediately.

Fajardo is due back in Richmond Provincial Court on April 23.

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