Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Citizen’s arrest by Barrhaven eyewear store owner caught on camera

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A store owner in Barrhaven who has been robbed multiple times wasn’t going to let it happen again. Against the advice of police, he stepped in to stop another robbery from happening right in his store.


It happened at an eye glasses store called Eyes of Barrhaven on Strandherd Drive near Citigate Drive.


It unfolded in minutes during daylight hours on Monday. The store owner says the suspects walked in and started taking items off the shelves. That’s when he jumped into action.


Surveillance video shows the moment four people walked into the store, the situation quickly escalating.


“Two of them were masked. They looked like they were not interested in buying anything. They were just coming in to take merchandise like they’ve done in the past five other times. And we just had enough of it,” said Awni George, the owner of Eyes of Barrhaven.


George says he witnessed the thieves pocketing designer sunglasses and eyewear off the shelves.


“I was pushed by the individual as he took the frames right in front of me and said, ‘You can’t do anything about it.’ And those were his words to me; ‘we’re going to come in here and we’re going to take whatever we want and walk out.'”


Moving quickly, George stopped the robbery, perfoming a citizen’s arrest.


Others in the store jumped in to help, holding down one suspect, while the three ran away.


“Three of them ran out with a bunch of frames, and then one of the other gentlemen tried to escape and he wasn’t so fortunate to get out,” said Andrew Ratte, who helped to perform the citizen’s arrest. “And then luckily we had him on the ground and then from there he started to make malicious threats, talking about stabbing us with fentanyl.”


George says it appears to be the same group of people who have stolen from his store several other times. He estimates he’s out around $15,000 from all of the incidents.


“It’s very damaging to a small business that we have to constantly be in this state of fear, in the state of alarm. And at the same time, financially, we’re burdened by these criminals constantly coming in and committing these crimes against us,” said George.


Ottawa police were not available for an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson said in an email that police don’t recommend anyone attempt a citizen’s arrest for the safety of the victims and bystanders. Police did not provide any details about their response to the incident on Monday, or whether the person George and the other citizens detained was charged.

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