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Penticton liquor store robber foiled by customers

It’s only 29 seconds long, but a video of a young man smashing a glass bottle and allegedly using it to threaten a clerk at a Penticton liquor store is as dramatic as they come.

Government Street Liquor Store owner Jeff Leonard shared the video online, as he does whenever he has footage of someone stealing from him. This time was different though.

The shop owner himself was filling in behind the counter for a sick employee on Sunday around 1:30 p.m. when the alleged robber grabbed a 40-ounce bottle of Polar Ice vodka, broke it on the floor, then brandished it as he demanded cash.

“He looked mean,” Leonard said of the suspect, who’s stocky and stands about five-foot-eight. “He growled and barked out the commands.”

Despite the threat in front of him, the store owner was more angry than scared.

“I’m just kind of assessing the situation and I’m really mad. You’re stealing from me, right? This is my livelihood,” Leonard recalled thinking.

The shop owner relented and passed over a handful of cash, which the alleged crook grabbed before running out.

Two customers who left just prior to the hold-up saw the suspect take off and followed him in their vehicle, while Leonard set off his store alarm and gave chase in his truck.

The alleged robber was soon pinned in an alley behind Edna Avenue, where the female customer who was in pursuit used her power of persuasion to end the incident.

“She just told (the suspect), ‘You’re not going to get away with this so why don’t you just give up?’ And he did. He put the money down,” Leonard said.

The store owner said a rash of recent thefts from his store — “I’ve had eight months of nothing, and then just in this last month I’ve had five people come in and steal from me,” — contributed to his decision to chase the robber, although he doesn’t recommend employees follow his lead.

“I tell my staff, ‘Don’t, just give them the money, get a good description and let them go. That’s our policy. Safety first. We’re insured for losses and stuff so don’t be a hero,’” Leonard explained.

Penticton RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski noted safety should always be the top priority. Lozinski confirmed the robbery suspect, a 17-year-old from elsewhere in the South Okanagan, remains in custody while police consider criminal charges.

You can watch the video of the robbery at www.facebook.com/pentictonnews.

 

 

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