LETHBRIDGE – One adult and three young offenders have been charged in connection with an alleged robbery at a south side store Thursday, June 7.
Lethbridge Police say the incident occurred around 2:30 p.m., when four males went into Bell World along the 3700 block of Mayor Magrath Drive South. They allegedly placed the two employees – a male a female – in headlocks, pulled them into the back of the store and forced them to open a safe. Police say the suspects then took 73 cellphones and fled the scene.
They were taken into custody a short time later on Highway 519 near Granum, when RCMP deployed a spike belt after the suspect vehicle failed to stop for them.
Ruach Bang, 20, of Calgary, has been charged with robbery, flight from police and two counts of breach of a recognizance in connection with similar incidents in Calgary.
A 16-year-old male from Calgary is charged with robbery, disguised intent and two counts of breach of a recognizance from similar robberies in Calgary.
A 16-year-old and 17-year-old, both from Calgary, each face a single charge of robbery.
All four remain in custody pending bail hearings.
Speaking to the media on Friday, LPS Insp. Tom Ascroft said the two employees at the store were treated on scene by EMS for non-life-threatening injuries but noted that the impact on them was significant.
“Emotionally, I mean, you can imagine how terrifying that would be to have people basically come into the store, assault you like that, force you into the back room – I would suspect you would wonder what's going to happen to you,” said Ascroft.
“They did a tremendous job,” he then added of how the victims handled the situation. “They cooperated, they're unhurt, the property's recovered, the offenders are in custody.”
Ascroft also discussed what they believe was the ultimate plan of the suspects.
“Retail, these are worth about $25,000,” he explained. “[The cellphones] probably would have left the country and been reprogrammed and offered for sale in another market.
“When criminals find a niche and they can capitalize on something that's fairly low-risk and high profit, then it's going be something that they're going to try,” Ascroft continued. “I think crime evolves and we have to be aware of that.”
The investigation is ongoing, with Ascroft saying they are looking into possible connections between these suspects and other similar crimes. He noted that the individuals are known to police and he believes they are all Alberta residents.
Ascroft also stated that one of the individuals did have a knife, but he does not believe it was displayed during the robbery.
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