Burnaby RCMP are issuing a warning after a man charged with several sexual assaults was released from custody Wednesday while he awaits trial.
Shalendra Kumar Sharma, 43, of Surrey has been charged with four counts of sexually assaulting four women, two in December 2011 and the others in 1994 and 1997. He is also charged with four counts of confining the women and one count of kidnapping.
In addition, Sharma is charged with two counts of assault and one count of uttering threats in connection with the two December incidents. He was arrested Feb. 17 and released May 9.
Burnaby RCMP say he is “dangerous and extreme caution should be taken if he is encountered.” While previously police had not released Sharma’s photo to protect the integrity of the investigation, Burnaby RCMP did so Friday to “warn the public of the threat he poses to women.”
In February, Burnaby RCMP announced the arrest and charges and asked additional victims and witnesses to come forward, a plea it repeated.
Burnaby RCMP began its investigation after learning of a possible sexual assault and robbery on Dec. 4 against a woman, a sex-trade worker, who had been taken to Burnaby from the Downtown Eastside.
Due to the nature of the assault, it became Burnaby RCMP’s No. 1 priority, said Burnaby RCMP Chief Supt. David Critchley at the time.
Immediately, Burnaby RCMP notified Vancouver Police Department which then took steps to warn other sex trade workers in the area, he said, stressing the two police agencies, and more than 50 officers, have been working closely together on the file.
A second sexual assault took place in Burnaby on Dec. 18, which investigators believed was linked to the first.
In all four cases, the victims were sex-trade workers taken from the Downtown Eastside to South Burnaby where they were sexually assaulted.
Sharma, who works as a labourer in a manufacturing plant, was not known to police prior to these incidents, Critchley said.
The two police agencies continue to look at past files dating back to the 1990s in a search for additional cases Sharma may be linked to.
To help jog the memories of possible victims and witnesses, police released a list of vehicles which Sharma owned or had access to since 1994: a 2007 red Ford Escape from October 2006 to the present; a 2003 blue Ford Explorer, from January 2004 to February 2010; a 1997 red Ford Explorer from March 1999 to October 2006; and a 1991 red Pontiac Sunbird, from January 1994 to May 1997.
Anyone who may have witnessed or been the victim of an assault, sexual assault or theft by someone driving the vehicles associated with Sharma is asked to call Burnaby RCMP, 604-294-7922, or to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).