RCMP appear to have cracked a ring of teenaged armed robbers accused of waging a four-month long crime spree in Red Deer and Blackfalds.
The male youths, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faced armed robbery and weapons-related charges, including using an imitation firearm in a robbery and wearing a face mask while committing a crime.
Red Deer RCMP arrested the four on Thursday in connection with armed robberies dating back to Nov. 17, 2014, in Blackfalds, when three businesses were hit within minutes of each other.
The teens from Blackfalds and Red Deer also face charges in relation to the Feb. 13 armed robbery at a Blackfalds Esso station and robberies at FasGas, Corral Foods and Express 24 in Red Deer between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27.
Each of the accused appeared one-by-one in the prisoner’s dock in Red Deer provincial youth court on Friday morning and afternoon. They are 16 and 17 years old.
All were released from custody after agreeing to post $250 bail, although no cash deposit is required. Their fathers also had to agree to $1,100 no-cash sureties in each case.
Several of the parents who appeared before Judge Gordon Yake appeared to be in shock to be finding themselves standing in a courtroom.
One rattled father stumbled over his son’s birth date when asked by the judge to confirm it, and had to be corrected on the year by his sullen youngster standing in the prisoner’s dock.
Two of the youths face nine charges each, and the others face three and two charges respectively.
All will return to court on April 9.
The Priority Crimes Task Force arrested the four “building on the arrest of one male youth earlier this week by Blackfalds RCMP,” said Red Deer RCMP Const. Lee Knelsen in a Friday news release.
“These criminal activities crossed police jurisdictions, and our shared intelligence allowed the task force to piece together all the elements needed to make these arrests,” says Knelsen.
“The task force continues to investigate and further charges may be laid in relation to other armed robberies.”
Blackfalds RCMP announced on Wednesday they had laid 28 charges against a youth in connection with five armed robberies in Blackfalds and three in Red Deer. He appeared in Red Deer youth court on Thursday and is due back on April 2.
The regional Priority Crimes Task Force is made up of police officers from Red Deer RCMP general investigative section (GIS), Sylvan Lake, Innisfail and Blackfalds RCMP detachments and is supported by Lacombe Police Service.
Anyone with information that will assist RCMP in investigating these or other armed robberies in the region is asked to call Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tipsubmit.com.