Surveillance video unmasks bogus robbery

Posted Sept. 10, 2011, at 4:50 a.m.

LAWRENCE, Mass. — Two employees of a Broadway cellphone store told police two men entered the store and robbed it just before closing Wednesday night.

That was their story and they were sticking to it until it unraveled after investigators showed them surveillance video from a camera in a rear hallway that’s shared with the business next door.

“They just didn’t know about the camera from the other business,” Police chief John Romero said yesterday. “And that’s what tripped them up.”

The employees, identified by police as Jose Mejia, 25, of 16 Brookdale Lane, Haverhill, and Stacy Desnoyers, 31, of 91 Broadway, Methuen, told police it was near the 7 p.m. closing time at the Metro PCS store at 160 Broadway when two men walked up to the store and Mejia let them in as the last customers of the day were leaving and locked the door behind them so no one else could come in.

Once in the store the first man covered his face with his jacket and pulled out a small black handgun and pointed it at Mejia, they told police. The men forced him behind the counter and struck him several times with the butt of the gun, they said.

Desnoyers told police she was in the back counting the day’s receipts and hearing the noise, went out front to see what was going on. She told police the man with the gun assaulting Mejia turned and pointed the gun at her and ordered her to move, but she was frozen with fear and did not.

The man then pressed the gun to her head and forced her to move, she said, adding that the $2,500 in cash she had been counting was still on the table and the men grabbed it.

The man with the gun fired a round at the plexiglas and both of them fled out the back door, she said. Officers located a spent .380 shell casing and bullet fragments in the store.

Asked if the business had a surveillance camera, the pair said no.

When the officers checked the rear hallway, which leads to a door to the alleyway behind the businesses, the first thing they saw was a security camera owned by United Express Corp. next door.

The officers met a United Express worker who told them he heard a bang but did not see anything, and that the camera was operational.He called his son to come and show police the video, and that is where the store workers’ story began to come apart.

Police said at 7:03 p.m. the video shows two men outside in the rear of the building trying to get inside. When they could not enter one of the men is seen making a call on his cellphone. About 30 seconds later, Desnoyers is seen going to the back door to let the two men in.

The men followed her into the store and were seen running out the back of the store into the hallway and outside, about a minute later. The video shows one of the men holding a black object and trying to cover his face, police said.

During the whole time both were making calls and texting on their cellphones.

The store workers were asked to come to the police station, where they were interviewed separately.

Police said Desnoyers stuck to her story even after being shown the video and told the officers she didn’t want to speak to them anymore because they were accusing her of a crime.

She began to cry when told she was going to be charged and then agreed to speak to the officers, police said.

Mejia began to speak to officers and when he was confronted with the video, asked for a lawyer.

Both were arrested and charged with conspiracy and larceny over $250.

Mejia was also charged with making a false report of a crime, and Desnoyers was additionally charged with illegal possession of ammunition after live .22 caliber round was found in her purse.

(c)2011 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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