Local briefs – February 26

Red Deer Mounties are on the hunt for a man who robbed a downtown grocery store on Thursday afternoon.

Grocery store robbed

Red Deer Mounties are on the hunt for a man who robbed a downtown grocery store on Thursday afternoon.

The thief demanded money from a clerk inside the Canada Safeway grocery store. The clerk complied and the crook fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. The clerk wasn’t injured.

Police responded at about 1:50 p.m. to the store. It’s unknown which way the culprit fled.

The suspect is described as Caucasian, about 1.73 metres (five foot eight inches) tall, slim build and clean shaven. He was wearing a black baseball cap with lettering, white runners and blue jeans.

Anyone who may have seen this male is asked to call RCMP immediately at 403-343-5575.

Tips can remain anonymous at Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.tipsubmit.com. If information leads to an arrest, tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Police seize crystal meth

A search warrant conducted on a house early Thursday morning shows that methamphetamine drug use continues to be a common problem, says a Red Deer RCMP spokeswoman.

Mounties seized a quantity of meth, valued at more than $7,500, from a house in the 3800 block of 47th Street in Eastview at about 12:25 a.m. Also retrieved was some cash, as well as various trafficking paraphernalia.

“Methamphetamine is all too common,” said Const. Sabrina Grunow on Thursday. “There was attention on it a few years ago, but it’s still there.”

The highly addictive drug is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder taken orally or by snorting or injecting, or a rock “crystal” that is heated and smoked.

Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, which are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of store-bought chemicals. Grunow said the drug can often look similar to crack cocaine.

Sometimes, police have sent away ecstasy pills to labs for analysis and discover methamphetamine had been mixed in, she added.

A 28-year-old woman and a man aged 23, both of Red Deer, were arrested and later released. The woman, whose name wasn’t released, faces a trafficking charge. She will be in Red Deer provincial court on April 29.

Fraud suspect reserves plea

A Red Deer woman reserved her plea on 13 fraud charges involving more than $200,000 when she appeared in court on Wednesday.

Celine de Castro, 50, returns to court on March 10 to enter a plea.

The charges include nine counts of fraud of more than $5,000 each, three counts of uttering a forged document and one count of fraud of less than $5,000 involving real estate.

It’s alleged that between Aug. 21, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2009, de Castro offered properties in Red Deer for sale to alleged victims as an investment opportunity. Other dates include between Oct. 15, 2009, and January of this year. An unrelated fraud is alleged to have occurred between Jan. 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009.

The victims, the Red Deer RCMP crime unit alleges, gave the accused money to buy properties that she claimed were bank foreclosures.

Police allege the properties in question were not for sale during the period involved.

Blackfalds Arena to get funding

Lacombe County will provide $45,000 to help upgrade the Blackfalds Arena and buy a new Zamboni. Improving the lighting of the arena and buying the Zamboni will cost $175,000.

The county’s policy says that the amount donated is determined by whether community groups, local clubs or committees have raised 15 per cent themselves. In this case, that requirement likely wasn’t met.

Reeve Terry Engen said it may be time for the county to update that policy because in urban communities, it is rare that community groups are still involved in the funding of major facilities like arenas.