US man sentenced to five years for grocery robberies

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An American man convicted for a string of armed robberies across the Lower Mainland, including in Burnaby, has been sentenced to five years in a Canadian prison, says Vancouver Police.

Thomas John Schwartz, also known as Tom Stone, was charged with robbery and weapons-related offences and was extradited from the U.S. back to Canada.

Schwartz was the subject of a public appeal by VPD, West Vancouver Police and North Vancouver and Burnaby RCMP on Dec. 12, 2012 after eight neighbourhood grocery stores were robbed, crimes believed to have been committed by the same man.

Police received many tips as a result, which identified a Squamish resident as a suspect.

Three days after the appeal, on Dec. 13, 2012, Schwartz was arrested by American border officials after they discovered the 68-year-old man had an outstanding U.S. warrant from 1972 related to allegations of desertion from the U.S. Air Force.

On Dec. 21, 2012, the U.S. authorities contacted local robbery investigators. They, together with Canada’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, had looked into the man's background and determined he was being sought by police for the armed robberies.

Schwartz was convicted in connection with brazen robberies targeting grocery stores, including the Choices Market on 10th Avenue in Burnaby.

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