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The suspects in a 10-day spree of seven armed robberies on Youngstown’s North Side laid low for several weeks when they learned police were watching them.
But in the wee hours of Monday morning, the bandits struck again. And Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley said information gathered from that most recent crime is what led police to arrest a 17-year-old boy Tuesday morning at 261 Norwood Ave.
“We had several individuals in mind the past several weeks, but did not have enough information to arrest anyone. They were aware we were watching them and the crimes stopped. We let our guard down and unfortunately, they got in another one. Thankfully, no one was hurt,” Foley said.
At 1 a.m. Monday, two people, including one Youngstown State University student, were robbed at gunpoint by two black males in their late teens with bandanas over their faces. The description given by the victims fit the profile of robbers who had struck six previous times between Aug. 12 and Aug. 22.
According to a map provided by Foley, the first robbery occurred at 11:55 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Elm Street and Park Avenue. The description given was vague, saying only “two males between 5′-10″ and 6-feet.”
That was followed by an Aug. 17 robbery at 10:15 p.m. at 210 Broadway Ave., in which the suspects were described as “two black males, between 18 and 22, about 5′-10″ and 150 pounds.” About an hour later, two robbers with a similar description struck at 1610 Fifth Ave.
On Aug. 18 at 2:23 a.m., two robbers with the same description robbed a YSU student at gunpoint at the corner of Ford Avenue and Alameda Avenue. Foley said two black juvenile males with a similar description broke into a home at 351 Redondo Road at 10:27 p.m. Aug. 18, leading police to believe it was the same suspects from the armed robberies. He said the pair held the homeowner at gunpoint while stealing items from the home.
At 11:30 p.m. Aug. 20, three black males estimated to be in their early teens with small builds robbed someone getting out of their car at 1867 Goleta Ave. That led to a several hour search of Crandall Park and the surrounding area with a K-9 unit, but no one was found. The last robbery occurred just after midnight Aug. 22 during which two suspects with a similar description robbed someone in the 400 block of Norwood Avenue near Belmont Avenue.
Foley said an armed robbery occurred just after 9 p.m. Jan. 22 at 479 Madera Ave., which also is near Crandall Park. The description of the two suspects in that robbery was similar and Foley said police think it may be connected.
The chief said information gained following the most recent robbery on Monday enabled police to obtain the search warrant for the Norwood Avenue house, where the 17-year-old suspect was found. He was taken to the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center, where he will be held until formal charges are filed Wednesday. His name is being withheld until formal charges are filed.
Police also found two handguns, clothing, narcotics, drug paraphernalia, cell phones and a shell casing all believed to be involved in the robberies.
Foley said he is hoping to file additional charges against a second suspect not yet in custody and a third person also may be involved.
“The residents obviously have been happy to see us driving around the neighborhood more, but some of them told me they were afraid to walk their dog at night. So I am happy we can alleviate some of those fears with at least one arrest,” Foley said. “The North Side, especially the area around Crandall Park, is generally quiet and serene.”
Youngstown police worked closely on the investigation with YSU police, the Mahoning County Violent Crimes Task Force and the Mahoning County Juvenile Court, which Foley said helped police narrow down the list of potential suspects.
“We’re not done with it yet. I’d like to be a little further along. Sometimes we have to just have to be patient and work with our prosecutors and you know, we may have a little bit more work to do with this case,” Foley said.
Residents also can help with the investigation by calling police if they see any teens breaking curfew.
“These males that we were looking at they’re all 16, 17 years old. It’s habitual. Individuals that have been in and out of the system and they don’t care about curfew laws, so that was another tool that we could use to stop them, identify them, and make sure they aren’t doing anything illegal,” Foley said. “We knew it was someone living in the neighborhood. These individuals were opportunists. They would drive around, or walk around the neighborhood, see people that were vulnerable and take advantage.”