A handful of local businesses were hit by thieves last week, who broke in and stole cash during a spree of early-morning break and enters.
The businesses affected by the Sept. 19 early morning break-ins were Clyde’s Fas Gas, the Westlock Garden Centre, Robin Farm Equipment and Precision Design. RCMP said the damage to the buildings exceeds the small amount of cash that was stolen and said they believe the break-ins are related.
RCMP Staff. Sgt Bryan Clayton said in a media release each business had either the front door or a window smashed out with a rock and only petty cash, or nothing at all was taken. He said the crimes were the “smash and grab variety” where the culprits were only on scene for a few minutes.
In the case of the Clyde Fas Gas, Westlock RCMP Const. Ryan Flear said the suspect broke into the store by smashing through the front window at roughly 2 a.m. and was able to make off with both cash drawers containing about $300.
The gas station has state-of-the-art surveillance systems, which were able to catch the event on tape. The RCMP were dispatched immediately.
“There was a male running around. He had a hood on, fully gloved, everything. He grabbed a rock and proceeded to smash out the front door window,” said Jeff Gable, representative for the Fas Gas. “He came through, jumped the counter, grabbed two floats and ran out of the store and was in and out of the building in under 20 seconds.”
Gable said the perpetrator knew what to do and where to go, since he didn’t touch anything else in the store.
This break-in isn’t something new to the franchise, which has seen a rash of break-ins in the past. The business has operated in that location for several decades, Gable said, and has seen its fair share of crime.
During construction of the new building, a temporary trailer shop was broken into three times in just two months. The new building, which has been set up for three years, has now experienced two break-ins.
“People that are out for no good kind of see that as an isolated, quiet area where the police aren’t close by, so it does get hit unfortunately and it probably will again one day too,” he said. “It’s an uncomfortable situation of course, when you know there’s people out there not doing right.”
The Clyde Corner Fas Gas is one of three family owned locations, which include the Barrhead Fas Gas and the Westlock Esso. All three have surveillance systems that operate 24 hours per day, as well as deterrents like shatterproof glass and alarm systems.
Despite these measures, Gable said tougher security procedures will be put in place to prevent another robbery.
RCMP is reviewing the surveillance footage and the investigation continues. If anyone has information on these crimes, they can contact the Westlock RCMP at 780-349-4491 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. RCMP said they are unable to say whether they have suspects or not.