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Robbery suspects arrested on roof of Victoria hotel

Apr 27 2012
A police officer keeps watch near the Bedford Regency Hotel in Government Street, Victoria, Thursday after the suspects in a jewelry store robbery were found inside. 

A police officer keeps watch near the Bedford Regency Hotel in Government Street, Victoria, Thursday after the suspects in a jewelry store robbery were found inside.

Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD , timescolonist.com

Two robbery suspects who were chased by members of the public through downtown Victoria after a raid on a jewelry shop Thursday were arrested by police as they hid on the roof of a hotel.

The drama unfolded after two men released pepper-spray inside Paul Mara Jewellers, at the corner of Fort and Broughton streets, before fleeing with jewelry.

“They go in, they released pepper-spray into the building, smashed a bunch of display cabinets and took a bunch of things and ran off,” said Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell.

Police closed Government Street between Trounce Alley and Fort Street, and part of Yates Street, during the incident, which happened just after 10:30 a.m.

Bystanders directed police officers to the suspects. Two men and a woman who were thought to be involved the crime were found inside the Bedford Regency Hotel on Government Street.

“We had witnesses running after them, we had people following them, pointing out where they were going to us and then, finally, we lost them around the Bedford Hotel,” Russell said. “Then we got information that they were in there so we locked it down.

“The woman was arrested pretty much immediately, but the two men had crawled out windows and were hiding behind ducts on the roof. We had our police dogs, our emergency-response team detectives and identification team.”

The fire department also responded.

Officers caught up to the two men on the roof of the Bedford and put them into the bucket of a waiting aerial fire truck for them to be taken down to the street.

“They were taken into custody on the roof and then we loaded them into the fire bucket and down they came,” Russell said.

The scene was “surreal,” said Frank Szonyi, a Times Colonist advertising salesman who was passing through the area. He said people were approaching a police officer stationed on Government Street and asking which film was being shot. “That’s because it was like a movie scene,” Szonyi said.

The suspects might have had a weapon, but that was not confirmed, Russell said. Officers searched a hotel room linked to the men, but no results from the search were available.

Robert Simon, one of the jewelry store owners, said his staff were treated by paramedics for the effects of the pepper spray. He said about six cabinets were smashed, but did not have an estimate for the value of jewelry stolen.

Simon was grateful to passersby who took cellphone pictures of the two men, called 911, chased the suspects and helped his shaken employees.

The store’s video surveillance cameras got a clear shot of the two thieves, Simon said. The footage has been handed to the police.


—with files from Katie DeRosa

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