The rash of recent robberies continued Tuesday night as Plaza Liquor Store in Sylvan Lake was held up for the third time in under 30 days by a black clad bandit marking the sixth robbery in under 30 days for the town.
This wasn’t the only robbery of the evening on Tuesday as Lakeway Liquor was hit in their second robbery this week. Reports indicate the robber entered Lakeway Liquor Tuesday evening prior to Plaza Liquor Store. The robber was unable to obtain cash from Lakeway at which point they went to Plaza before fleeing on foot.
Earlier in the week at approximately 5:49 p.m. on Monday January 4, Sylvan Lake RCMP responded to the first robbery at the Lakeway Liquor Store.
Investigation by the RCMP determined a lone male walked into the store, approached the lone employee and demanded cash from the till. The employee complied, placing the money into a bag. At this time the male, who is described as around 6 feet tall and in his 20’s, left the store on foot.
This marks the second robbery for Sylvan Lake in the last week following an incident that occurred on December 29 at 3:40 p.m. in which a lone masked male, matching the same description as that of the Lakeway Liquor robber, entered CIBC in Sylvan Lake on 50th Street and robbed the bank of an undisclosed amount of money.
The RCMP stated the suspect approached the teller and had them put all of the money in the bag, after which the male then left the CIBC on foot and was last seen heading down the back alley behind the bank.
In all instances no weapon was displayed.
Aside from CIBC employees there was one witness at the time of the robbery who described the robbery as being very quick – with the suspect being in the establishment for no more than a few minutes.
“It was very emotional and I feel for the employees of the bank – nobody expects that when they go into work in the morning,” said the witness. “You prepare for these things as an employee but you never expect it to happen to you and when it does happen it’s very different than anything you could have prepared for.”
The witness describes sitting at the business desk in the bank – the teller had finished one of her transactions when she looked at the witness giving her a panicked look to be quiet. The witness then turned to see the suspect standing in front of another teller.
“I looked over and there was a male standing there and we knew that’s what was happening,” recalls the witness. “I couldn’t hear them at all – he was very quiet.”
These instances join the two prior robberies at the Plaza Liquor Store in Sylvan Lake with one having took place on Dec. 13 and the other on Dec. 27 – all of which RCMP have reason to believe were done by the same suspect.
In each robbery the suspect is described as wearing a black balaclava, black zip up hoodie, dark pants and work boots.
Sylvan Lake RCMP Sgt. Jeff McBeth stated in an interview on Tuesday morning there was no weapon made known in any of the first four incidents. McBeth was unavailable for comment before press time on the last two incidents, however staff of both Lakeway Liquor and Plaza liquor stores confirmed no weapon was seen during the time of the last two robberies also.
He added that while they all have similarities and at this time they have reason to believe they were all done by the same suspect, the RCMP are not ruling out the idea of multiple persons being involved as there are also circumstantial differences in each case.
Sgt. McBeth stated the victims of all four cases did the right thing by complying with the suspect, adding he would advise anyone else who finds themselves in these situations to do the same.
“Nothing is worth your life – certainly not defending a few dollars for the store. I know that sounds bad, but it is meant in the fact that the people who are victims of outrageous crimes like these – nothing is worth their life,” stated McBeth. “Comply with whatever demand the criminal has and call 911 as soon as you can or if there is an alarm button to call the police then hit it.”
“People have ideas of thinking they can defend themselves. The problem is if it doesn’t work then you’ve agitated the situation – the success rate of defending yourself is so small that the risk is not worth the reward. That’s where we come in and hopefully get there fast enough to engage the suspect or follow the path they took and then put ourselves in harms way to bring them before justice.”
McBeth and the Sylvan Lake RCMP are asking that anyone who may have information – no matter how insignificant or minor you may feel it is, to please contact the RCMP via phone or one of the anonymous options below.
“It’s our job to put the pieces of the puzzle together and this is an alarming puzzle to have it happen four times since the 13th,” said McBeth. “As the police in Sylvan Lake it is something we want to stop immediately as it can only get more dangerous and we want to make sure that we get this person or persons apprehended as soon as possible and stop this violence. People are going to get scared and it’s our job to make them feel safe.”
Investigators are asking anyone who may have information regarding these occurrence’s to contact the Sylvan Lake RCMP at 403-858-7200. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or by internet at www.tipsubmit.com. You do not have to reveal your identity to Crime Stoppers, and if you provide information to Crime Stoppers that leads to an arrest(s), you may be eligible for a cash reward.