Armed Robbery of Salt Lake City Restaurants

Multiple cases of armed robbery with a similar suspect description were reported by Salt Lake City restaurants within a two day stretch prior to the New Year.

String of establishments robbed at gunpoint

Armed Robbery

Photo by: Geoffrey Fairchild

Within a 48 hour window, four different businesses in Salt Lake City, including three restaurants called police to report an armed robbery in which one or two suspects brandishing firearms demanded cash from employees. At the first two locations, a suspect was described as a black man with an accent who was accompanied by another male of Hispanic descent. The next two locations the following day were apparently robbed by a similar black man with an accent who was acting alone. As descriptions of the suspects provided from witnesses at each of the armed robbery locations began to match, authorities noted that the robberies were likely connected.

Robbery vs aggravated robbery

According to Utah Code 76-6-301, “A person commits robbery if:

a) the person unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the person property; or

b) the person ( . . . ) uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation.” Robbery is a second degree felony.

If a person commits armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, causes serious bodily harm during the course of the robbery, or carjacks or attempts to carjack a vehicle with an occupant inside, it is then considered by Utah Code 76-6-302 to be aggravated robbery, a first degree felony. When caught, the suspects in the string of robberies throughout Salt Lake City will be facing a first degree felony and five years to life in prison.

Surprising cases of armed robbery

Photo by: Luke Larsson

Photo by: Luke Larsson

When a working firearm is displayed in an armed robbery, there is little doubt that a dangerous weapon was used. There are some instances however, where an item was made to appear dangerous, but in fact wasn’t. Some examples include: an unloaded or fake gun; realistic looking blades or knives; an apparently vicious animal; or even an object such as a stick or finger inside a jacket pocket making the appearance of a gun. While these “weapons” may not have been dangerous, the fear in which they instill in the victim is the same as if an actual weapon was used, and the penalties would likewise be the same. This can surprise some defendants who were perhaps not intending to create fear in someone or were not in a sober state of mind to think rationally. For more information on aggravated or armed robbery and the defense options possible with these charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Burglary and Robbery

When a thief breaks into a home and the resident is there, the burglary may turn into robbery instead.  Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably and although they are both property crimes, the two are different according to Utah state law.

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Burglary defined

Utah code 76-6-202 states that “An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit: a felony, theft, […]”. Someone can commit burglary by breaking into a house while the homeowners are away on vacation.  Burglary, or breaking and entering, doesn’t necessarily have to involve the victim themselves, just their home and their belongings.

Robbery in comparison

76-6-301 states “A person commits robbery if: the person […] takes or attempts to take person property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear […]”.  Therefore to be considered robbery, a victim must be present at the scene of the crime and feel threatened or forced to give up their belongs by the intruder.  Likewise, robbery doesn’t have to involve a dwelling or building whereas burglary does.

Penalties for burglary and robbery

76-6-202 defines burglary as a 3rd degree felony “unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.” Robbery, whether it takes place in a dwelling or in public is always a 2nd degree felony as it involves another person directly.  If convicted, burglary and robbery charges can bring lengthy prison time.  Many criminals with a history of theft don’t fully understand the ramifications when they directly involve the victim or intrude on someone’s home. For anyone facing burglary and/or robbery charges, communicate with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Salt Lake City Robbery Derailed by Clerk with Ax Handle

Salt Lake City Robbery Derailed

Photo: Utah, Salt Lake City

A man who attempted the robbery of a Salt Lake City convenience store on Sunday, Nov. 23, apparently chose the wrong store. The clerk fought back with an ax handle, and the suspect is now in jail on charges of robbery and aggravated assault.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

According to a report from KSL News, on Sunday morning at approximately 3:30 a.m., the suspect, a 23-year-old male whose name hasn’t been released, entered a Salt Lake Maverik Country Store. In addition to not listing the suspect’s name, the report didn’t state whether the man had a weapon, however, it would seem that he didn’t because the clerk refused his demands for money.

When the suspect came behind the counter and threatened the clerk, the clerk struck the suspect several times in the head with an ax handle. The suspect got the weapon at some point, chasing the clerk around the store before fleeing after the clerk escaped the store. An unsuccessful robbery indeed.

Salt Lake Police Lt. Michael Ross stated that they received a call not long after about a man bleeding from his head. Aided by the identification of the suspect by the Maverik clerk, the police arrested the man, took him to the hospital for treatment of the head wounds, then booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail for robbery and aggravated assault.

Robbery Charges Discussed

The fact that the suspect is only being charged with robbery is further evidence that he most likely didn’t have a weapon (otherwise it would be aggravated robbery). According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-301, in this case the suspect may be guilty of robbery if he “unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear”. Even though the suspect wasn’t successful, the key word is “attempts.”

Robbery is considered a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you or someone you know has been charged with robbery, you don’t want to get the full brunt of this charge. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work on your behalf.