Thief abandons gas station robbery plans in New Brighton, leaves with employee’s wallet

Police are investigating a Jan. 30 robbery at an Exxon station in New Brighton after a man carried a knife into the store, left it on the counter, sneaked into the business’s office, lingered and then left with an employee’s wallet — all unbenounced to staff.

Officers responded to the convenience store at 201 W. County Road E2 just after 2:30 a.m., when a female clerk pressed the silent alarm button and also called 911 to report a robbery. 

It turned out that the woman, who was firightened after the incident, had her personal property stolen while she was working, and that — from all apparent evidence — the male suspect had intended to rob the store but didn’t follow through with his plans.  

The suspect, who was wearing a fedora hat and black gloves, was gone when police arrived soon after the call. 

According to the police report, the only thing he managed to steal was the employee’s wallet, which contained her bank cards, Social Security card and driver’s license.

When the store’s manager arrived after the incident, police were able to review extensive surveillance footage of the event and found that the man had entered the store at 2:21 a.m. holding a black bag and a gasoline can, which he set on the checkout counter. 

According to the police report, the clerk was not behind the counter at the time, because she was cleaning the store’s floor mats. 

The video shows the man standing at the registers for a short while, appearing “very jittery” and “moving around a lot.” Then he begins to walk around the store, eventually peeking into the “employees only” back room, which leads to the business’s office. 

According to the police report, the man entered the back room and found the clerk’s jacket. He picked it up, fumbled through the pockets and found her wallet. He then entered the office room.

While he was in the office, video shows the employee “walking in and out of the back room,” right near the suspect, without noticing him in the other room. 

“The suspect would stay around the corner,” the report said, making sure “he was not able to be seen.”

The employee continued cleaning the store and even brewed some coffee, all while the suspect remained hidden from her. During this time, the video even shows the thief wash his hands.

After he’d been in the back for about 10 minutes, the video shows the woman noticing one of her business cards on the ground, picking it up and walking over to her jacket to put it back in her wallet. That’s when she discovered her wallet was missing. 

According to the police report, the first thing the woman did was call her bank to report her cards had been stolen. As she walked out of the office toward the register, however, she hung up when she spotted the black bag and gas can on the counter for the first time. 

As she pressed the silent alarm button, video shows the man slipping out of the store through a side door that leads to the car wash area. 

Meanwhile, the employee, who was “shaken” and “frantic,” called 911 and looked in the bag, finding a “large knife” and a note that read, “Be smart! Put all money in bag now! 3 Cartons of Newports now!”

Police canvassed the area immediately after the initial report, but couldn’t locate the suspect, and were not sure if he fled by foot or by vehicle. 

According to New Brighton Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Trevor Hamdorf, police are still investigating this robbery. 

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

 

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