20th Century pizza bandit stages brief comeback: arrested in just 30 hours

After a 21-year hiatus, a man who served time for a spate of pizza shop robberies between 1998 and 2000 robbed a pizza outlet in New Taipei City yesterday, but was arrested this afternoon, June 1.

At around 9:00 am Monday, May 31, a man wearing a peaked cap, and a surgical mask walked into a Domino’s Pizza outlet on Zhongzheng Road in Hsintien District, and demanded to talk to the manager on the pretext that he had a traffic dispute with one of their delivery drivers.

When the 38-year-old female manager appeared, the suspect drew a knife and demanded she hand over the store’s cash. The suspect made away with NT$250,000, and escaped by hailing a cab.

Police investigators traced the suspect’s escape route via traffic monitor footage finding that he had fled towards Taipei City.

At around 3:00 pm this afternoon, police swooped on a shopping mall in the B2 basement level at Taipei Main Station, and arrested a 54-year-old man named Qiu.

According to the investigation so far, it was found Mr Qiu had previous criminal records for more than 10 robberies of pizza shops between 1998 and 2000. Qiu had led a group of bandits, using his knowledge of the pizza industry to target pizzerias just before closing time at night, or shortly before opening in the morning, when they carried a maximum amount of cash.

Qiu was released from prison more than 10 years ago, an SETN report notes, after which he washed his hands of his criminal ways, and turned to garbage disposal work.

However, Qiu had trouble finding work due to current epidemic prevention restrictions, and decided to go back to his old ways.

It is suspected that Qiu targeted the pizza outlet shortly before opening on Monday morning, because he expected the store to have the whole weekend’s takings in cash on the premises.

A China Times report noted the meticulous planning shown by Qiu. Qiu, who was carrying a backpack at the time of the robbery, had brought a rag with which he wiped fingerprints off any surface he made contact with, including the door handles. Qiu then changed clothing three times along his escape route in an attempt to throw off investigators.

When police arrested Qiu just 30 hours later, he was found with just NT$42,500 of the original NT$250,000 stolen. Qiu claimed that he had used the money to pay off a debt.

After interrogation, Qiu was sent to the District Prosecutor’s Office to face charges relating to robbery and weapons.

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