It hasn't even been a month since the federal COVID-19 benefits started rolling in and some criminals have already taken advantage. On Wednesday, April 29, Surrey RCMP announced that they recovered CERB Benefit cheques worth $33,000 from a residence in the area. Two individuals were arrested in connection to the stolen cheques. 

These CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) payments are given to Canadian residents who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the CERB plan, recipients are given $2000 a month over a four-month period.

Applications for this payment program opened up on April 6, and people are encouraged to apply monthly if their situation doesn't change. 

But it seems like two B.C. residents took a less traditional, more illegal route to get their hands on the funds. 

In an email sent to Narcity, Surrey RCMP outlined how they were able to catch the offenders. 

On April 25, officers of the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team (CCET) were carrying out routine patrols in local neighbourhoods. 

On their patrol of Cloverdale, the officers became suspicious of three vehicles parked at a residence because they had fake operating permits. 

Just after 9 p.m., the officers attempted to pull over one of the vehicles as it moved into the driveway.

The driver of the vehicle drove into the backyard to evade the police. 

Eventually, the driver was arrested after a brief foot chase and the female passenger was arrested without any incident. 

The officers investigated the vehicle and seized a " large quantity of stolen property from several Lower Mainland jurisdictions," as mentioned in the email. 

Among the stolen stuff was $33,000 worth of CERB cheques and multiple fake IDs. 

As a result, both the man and the woman were taken into custody.

RCMP said that man is still in custody while the woman has been released with an appearance notice for a later date. 

No charges have been laid but the investigation is underway as the team goes through processing the large amount of stuff found in the vehicle. 

Inspector Wendy Mehat said in the statement, "Not only are we looking out for safety aspects like social distancing, but keeping our eyes out for criminals who would seek to take advantage of opportunities presented by the pandemic." 

CCET is normally going through communities in Surrey and looking for people who are not following public health orders.

But in this case, they found a different type of COVID-19-related offence. 

The CCET has carried out 12,000 "proactive" checks of businesses, faith-based venues, event locations, recovery homes, parks, and beaches in Surrey. 

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