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Update: St. Albert cops charge man with four break-ins

Armed with combination brass knuckle/knife

St. Albert police have nabbed a man they believe is connected to a four-day crime spree that involved cigarettes, two stolen cars, and a police helicopter.

The St. Albert RCMP announced Nov. 24 that they had charged two people in connection with four break-ins that occurred in St. Albert between Nov. 12 and Nov. 16.

The first of these crimes was reported on Nov. 12, St. Albert Cst. MJ Burroughs said in an email. St. Albert officers responded to a break-in at the Esso gas station on Carnegie Drive at about 1:25 a.m. to find that the business’s front glass door had been smashed and many packages of cigarettes stolen. Video footage showed a man inside the business and a white hatchback vehicle driving away.

While patrolling for the suspect, police saw that the Ragged Edge Hair Salon about 800 m south of the Esso had a smashed window, Burroughs continued. An investigation determined someone had entered the hair salon and stolen money, hair tools and hair products. Video footage showed a man exiting a white Volkswagen GTI, grabbing a crowbar from the car’s hatch, smashing the window and crawling into the salon — the same man and car involved in the Esso incident.

That Esso was broken into again on Nov. 14 at about 2:10 a.m., Burroughs reported. Once again, the same man had smashed the front glass door and taken cigarettes and money, with the same white Volkswagen GTI parked outside.

The fourth break-in happened on Nov. 16 at about 2:30 a.m. St. Albert police responded to an alarm at Ron Hodgson Chevrolet Buick GMC on Galarneau Place where a man had stolen a gold SUV from inside the dealership.

The Edmonton Police Service’s Air 1 helicopter helped St. Albert police track the gold SUV and a white Volkswagen GTI following that car as they drove into Edmonton. Edmonton police arrested the man driving the SUV and the woman following him in the Volkswagen (which was stolen) at 170 St. and 114 Ave. and turned them over to the RCMP.

St. Albert RCMP believed based on the evidence that the man in the SUV was the same person involved with the three break-ins at the Esso and hair salon mentioned above. In an email, St. Albert RCMP Cpl. Morgan Kyle said police also believe the same stolen white Volkswagen GTI was involved in all four crimes.

Shawn Robert Douglas Phinney, 32, of Wetaskiwin has been charged with three counts of break and enter and one count each of theft of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (brass knuckles with a knife attached, St. Albert RCMP Cpl. Morgan Kyle reported), possession of a weapon contrary to a judicial order, possession of a break-in instrument, and failure to comply with a probation order. He has been released with conditions and will appear in St. Albert court this Dec. 11, 2023.

The woman, who Burroughs did not identify and had no fixed address, was charged with theft of a motor vehicle and three counts of possession of property obtained by crime. She has been released with conditions and will appear in St. Albert court this Dec. 18. Kyle said this woman could not yet be identified as her charges had yet to be sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace.

Damage estimates for these crimes were still under investigation, Kyle said.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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