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Two robbery suspects charged in Abbotsford

Two people have been charged with robberies that occurred recently in Abbotsford.

Maria Mantler, 36, has been charged with a purse snatching that took place behind Sevenoaks Shopping Centre, while Mark Coyles, 48, has been charged with a  robbery at the Liquor Barn at the corner of South Fraser Way and Clearbrook Road.

A woman was walking from the bus loop on Bourquin Crescent towards Gladwin Road at about 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 20, using the route behind the shopping centre, when a woman on a bike rode up to her and grabbed her purse.

Const. Ian MacDonald said the victim described the thief as blonde, about 5' 4" tall, with blue eyes and a bad complexion. A police composite drawing was then created, and officers were able to identify a suspect with whom they had had previous contact.

Mantler is now being investigated for links to two other purse snatchings, both occurring on Oct. 22. One took place in the Safeway parking lot in the 32500 block of  South Fraser Way, and the other was in the Meadow Fair Mall parking lot at the corner of South Fraser Way and Clearbrook Road.

In one case, a woman had her purse stolen as she got into the driver's seat of her vehicle, and, in the other, the purse was grabbed from the woman's shoulder as she walked across the parking lot.

In both instances, the female thief escaped in a dark-green mini van.

Mantler has previous convictions for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of stolen property under $5,000, according to the provincial court database.

The robbery at the Liquor Barn, also located at the Meadow Fair Mall, took place on Oct. 25, when a man browsed around the store for awhile before approaching the cashier, saying he had a weapon and demanding cash.

MacDonald said the length of time the robber spent in the store enabled the security cameras to capture good images of him, and he was then identified by police.

Coyles was arrested at his home. No weapon was found, MacDonald said.

Coyles has no prior criminal history, according to the provincial court database.

MacDonald said despite the rash of recent robberies, the total number of robberies is  down 18 per cent from last year at this time, although business robberies are up 19 per cent.

Robberies are divided into banks, purse snatchings, shoplifting, gang-related and businesses. MacDonald said there have been 64 total robberies so far this year, compared to 78 for the same period in 2010.

Business robberies are at 19 this year, compared to 16 last year for the same period.

MacDonald said the jump in business robberies can be attributed to the heists of five Subway restaurants. No suspect has yet been arrested, but police have made this a priority, he said.

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