By Jeremy Appel
An investigation is underway after police received a report of a break-and-enter and theft at the AG Foods in Redcliff on Feb. 21, which appears to be part of a larger spree across the Prairies.
Southern Alberta Newspapers has learned that authorities in at least two provinces believe two older men — dubbed “Barnie and Clyde” — seek out small town grocery outlets or shops, then pilfer back offices of cash while the staff is occupied.
The RCMP says the Redcliff incident occurred the previous evening around 6:40 p.m.
The two suspects broke through an office door and stole an unspecified amount of money.
One is described in a news release as an older male wearing a black hat and jacket, and the other as an older male wearing a black hat, black glasses and blue or grey jacket.
Police say that while one suspect stole the money, the other served as a lookout.
That’s similar to a robberies of a AG Foods in Saskatchewan from the summer, as well as a candy shop in Jasper last weekend, where $1,200 was stolen.
“It’s the same guys,” said Ana Lea Berenguer, the owner of Ana Lea’s Candy Lane in Jasper who has seen the recent security camera footage in media reports. “I’m really hoping they are caught, because you really feel violated. This is a small business that’s like my home.”
Berenguer says another business owner in Jasper has contacted her saying the duo hit that store last summer.
The Redcliff detachment provided still photos from the store’s video surveillance and are seeking the public’s help in identifying the culprits.
Redcliff RCMP Cpl. Shane Ryan told the Commentator that local investigators have been in touch with other police and RCMP detachments in the Prairies with similar files.
“We are aware of other similar thefts that have occurred with people matching the same description,” said Ryan.
The culprits appear to be “travelling criminals,” he added.
“We don’t think that they’re local. If they were local, those pictures are pretty good, and anybody would recognize them pretty much right away.”
A similar crime occurred in late August in Outlook, Sask., south of Saskatoon, where, again, two men of the same description took money from an AG Foods under similar circumstances.
“We had to close the case,” Cst. Kyle Vye, of the Outlook detachment, noting yet another case at the same time period reported at a nearby Co-op grocery outlet.
“It’s the same MO where they basically come in and take cash,” said Vye. “We have them on camera but have no idea who they are.”
The file was eventually sent to crime analysis department in that province, said Vye, where it was linked to similar robberies across Canada.
A comparison of security footage from Outlook and Redcliff, which were released to the media, shows a remarkable resemblance of one man suspected in both crimes.
If you have any information involving this incident please call the Redcliff RCMP at (403)548-2288 or Crimestoppers 1-800-222-8477.
– With files from Collin Gallant