An imitation gun was reportedly used in a convenience store holdup early Thursday morning in north Red Deer.
It was the third incident in about a week where fake guns, or Airsoft guns that shoot pellets, were used in robberies.
Red Deer RCMP said at 2 a.m., officers responded to an armed robbery in progress at a store in the 1700 block of Gaetz Avenue, where three males wearing face coverings, armed with a gun, had demanded cigarettes and cash.
They fled on foot towards Piper Drive and Page Avenue.
Police contained the area and located two suspects as they ran into a wooded area near Pines School. Officers surrounded the area and the suspects surrendered without incident.
Police found the third suspect hiding nearby and took him into custody, also without incident.
RCMP seized a replica handgun and knives during the arrests, as well as the stolen cash and cigarettes.
A 15-year-old will face charges of robbery with a firearm, wearing a disguise with intent, pointing a firearm, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Another 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy each face charges of robbery with a firearm and wearing a disguise with intent.
Their names cannot be released under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Over the weekend, two men allegedly used an Airsoft gun in a carjacking and taxi driver robbery.
On Saturday, the men, who posed as potential buyers, allegedly pulled out a handgun, stole a truck and robbed the owner during a test drive. On Sunday, a taxi driver was robbed at gunpoint by a lone man.
Red Deer Cpl. Karyn Kay said despite the recent incidents, there hasn’t been an increase in crimes involving fake guns or pellet guns.
“I wouldn’t say they are common, but they have been used before,” Kay said.
And they are always treated as a serious crime by police and the courts, she said.
“We do treat any replica, imitation, Airsoft pellet gun, as if it could cause death or grievous bodily harm.”
But she said it was unusual to see youth facing firearm charges. The teens were not known to police.
“I just think it’s an unfortunate situation. We’ll certainly be working with them throughout the court process to make sure they’re held accountable for their actions,” Kay said.