EDMONTON – A 27-year-old man is facing multiple charges in connection with a robbery at a mens’ wear store just off Whyte Ave on Boxing Day.
Members of Edmonton’s South West division responded to an alarm at Derks Menswear on 81 Ave. and 102 St. around 6 a.m.
While clearing the multi-roomed building, one of the officers spotted a suspect. After a brief chase through the store, the suspect tried to escape through what he thought was an exit, but was actually a shoe closet. Police say he refused to comply with the officer’s instructions, resulting in the discharge of her taser.
He was examined by paramedics, released, and arrested by police.
His charges included breaking and entering, obstructing a police officer, breach of release conditions and mischief over $5,000.
The suspect entered Derks through ventilation in the roof of the pressing shed – a room used to steam formal wear. He then crawled through the ventilation system, eventually knocking through the dry wall in the ceiling to get inside the building.
While inside, the suspect cleared out the tills, smashed multiple display cabinets, and filled a bin full of tailor-made clothing and tools from where construction was in progress.
When police found him, he had collected around $14,000 worth of merchandise, and had damaged over $2000 worth of displays in store.
Sterling Derk, Vice President and son of the store’s owner, had just woken up when he received a call from the alarm company. After a second call, Derk told police he and his father would meet them there.
“When I came in in the morning, I was like, you know, choked,” said Derk. “You spend all this time getting ready for one of the biggest days of the year, and then someone had pretty much ruined your day. Luckily, the store’s security system stopped the intruder from making away with his haul. Our locks are double key locks on both sides, so once he got in through the roof, he couldn’t get out unless he had a key,” explained Derk. “Or he would have had to go through the roof with all of his goodies, or whatever you’d like to call them.”
Derk and other staff members at the store were preparing for the “No B.S.” Boxing Week Event. But, the attempted burglary threw a bit of a wrench into the Boxing Day plans.
“You just spent all your time with your family through Christmas, and you’re thinking how you want to give back and share with the community, and when you come in, the store is in shambles,” said Derk. “You feel powerless.”
Instead of marking down prices, staff members were left to clean up broken glass from the smashed display cases.
Derk said it looked as though the thief wasn’t sure of what he was doing, and was just trying to grab anything he thought was of value.
“I think he was trying to find money and cash, but we don’t carry much on the premises,” said Derk. “It just seemed like he was kind of grasping at straws trying to find something in here. He obviously had an entrance strategy, but nothing to get out. Which is why we call him the clumsy bandit.”
This isn’t the first time the formal wear store has been targeted by thieves. In one case, Derk said the windows were smashed by an axe and a few items were taken. In another, someone tried to make away on foot with the store’s safe.
Although it’s been over eight years since the store has been broken into, Derk said it’s something he’s come to expect with owning a business.
“It’s part of the ups and downs,” explained Derk. “People are going to target you at some point in time, especially when you carry clothing and merchandise.”
While there is still a lot of cleaning and repair to finish up, Derk said the store has ramped up its deals, and is ready to roll for the new year.