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Alert citizen helps police stop armed robbery

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POSTED April 15, 2009 5:10 a.m.
Four Stockton teens hatched a plan to drive to Manteca and rob two gas stations on East Yosemite Avenue.

The teens – ranging in age from 12 to 15 - wore disguises such as stocking cap beanies pulled down low on their heads, sunglasses, and one even had on a wig.

When they found the two gas stations on East Yosemite too busy for their liking, they headed up North Main Street.

The plan of attack was to fill a backpack with candy and money as well as to pay the getaway driver so he could fill up the car with a full tank of gas so his father wouldn’t get suspicious that he had taken his car without permission.

 But something went wrong – for the teens anyway.

An alert citizen for the second time in less than a week thwarted an armed robbery by giving the Manteca Police the heads up after they saw the juvenile outside a gas station/convenience store in the 500 block of North Main Monday at 2 a.m. acting suspicious and wearing the disguises.

Manteca Police officer Bryon Elness was dispatched and came across three of the juveniles outside the store. One had a hand gun. As he was holding them for questioning the officer saw the fourth teen drive off.

In questioning the three, Elness was told of the original plan to rob stores on East Yosemite.

While the incident in Manteca was unfolding, a father of one of the teens called Stockton Police to report his vehicle had been stolen. When police contacted him to tell him his car had been at the scene of an attempted robbery, he took his 15-year-old son to the Manteca police station where he was arrested.

That isn’t the end of the story.

Police said that two of the boys had developed an escape plan while being held at the police station which included overpowering the first police officer that they came in contact with at the station, taking his gun and shooting their way out of the station. Police were able to prevent that from happening.

The four Stockton juveniles – ages 12, 14 and 15 – were arrested on charges of attempted robbery, conspiracy and burglary charges. One of the two 15-year-olds faces an additional gun charge. His father declined to press vehicle theft charges.

The teens were all transported and booked into San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall.

Last week, an alert citizen contacted police in time to stop a bold attempt at a takeover bank robbery of the Chase branch on Center Street.

Manteca Police spokesman Rex Osborn said area law enforcement encourage citizens to report suspicious activity to police.

“Because of this call and others, criminals of all ages have been stopped before they commit some very serious potentially deadly crimes,” Osborn said. “Use 911 to report these activities.  Provide police with good descriptions of the suspects, what activity they are doing and if a vehicle is involved the license number. “
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