Thief wielding steak knife targets gas station

Kerri Breen
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Crime

At 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, the lone attendant at the Esso station at Highland Drive and Torbay Road stepped outside for a smoke, temporarily disarming the store's electronic locks so he could let himself back in.

But before he could put the cigarette to his lips, a man wearing a white cardboard mask and brandishing a steak knife ran into the store in pursuit of cash and cigarettes.

Max Squires, manager of the Esso gas station at the intersection of Torbay Road and Highland Drive, says he is happy no one was hurt when his station was held up early Tuesday morning. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

At 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, the lone attendant at the Esso station at Highland Drive and Torbay Road stepped outside for a smoke, temporarily disarming the store's electronic locks so he could let himself back in.

But before he could put the cigarette to his lips, a man wearing a white cardboard mask and brandishing a steak knife ran into the store in pursuit of cash and cigarettes.

Max Squires, manager of the gas station, says the thief's mask was a "homemade jobbie." He's just happy no one was hurt.

"Nobody was injured, that's the main thing," Squires said. "I don't care about losing cigarettes."

The thief went behind the counter to take the cash from the till and grabbed cigarettes from a display. Then he moved to the store's back room, severing a security camera cord with his knife and grabbing more smokes.

Squires figures the thief was someone who knew the store, possibly a former employee or one of his or her friends.

"They were trying to break down the office door, trying to disable the video system."

Squires estimates the thief made off with about $2,000 worth of cigarettes and about $150 in cash before taking off in a vehicle heading south on Torbay Road.

He has insurance, but says it's not worth his time to file a claim, since there's a $2,000 deductible on both cash and merchandise losses.

Not that he's had a lot of experience.

Despite the frequency of armed robberies in the St. John's area and the fact that many stores have been hit multiple times, this is the first time in 10 years the east-end gas station has been targeted by an armed robber.

Surveillance footage of the crime has been turned in to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

No arrests have been made yet and RNC Const. Paul Davis says police are not optimistic about recovering stolen goods and cash in these kinds of cases.

Still, there's always the chance.

"Laying charges and finding out who's responsible for it (has happened) quite a bit, especially in the last year," he said.

Squires said he tells his staff if there's ever a robbery, they should co-operate.

"We tell our employees, 'Don't get brave' if they see a knife or anything like that, or a gun."

kbreen@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Esso, RNC Const.

Geographic location: Torbay Road, St. John's

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