x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Three arrested over petrol station robbery

Several suspects are arrested over the robbery of an Emarat petrol station last week.

SHARJAH // Three men suspected of robbing an Emarat petrol station at gunpoint last week were arrested yesterday, Sharjah police said.

They said the two Emiratis and one Yemeni had robbed another station just 30 minutes before hitting the Emarat facility.

"Police operations room was called about 4am [Thursday] and told that a petrol station in Al Shahba area had been robbed after armed masked men threatened the staff with a pistol, then ran away with all the money in the safe," said Maj Gen Humaid Mohammed Al Hudaidi, director general of Sharjah police. "After 30 minutes, another call came to the operations room saying another petrol station had been robbed in the same way in Industrial Area 5."

The second robbery was widely publicised via BlackBerry Messenger, with footage of police securing the Emarat station spreading quickly.

Police said yesterday that investigators had tracked down the car used in the crimes.

"They were driving a four-wheel car with forged plate numbers, but police managed to identify it, and officers first followed up with two people that drove it," Maj Gen Al Hudaidi said. "Police identified where they were staying in a neighbouring emirate, and with co-operation between the two police departments, the fugitives were arrested."

Those men told police about the third person with whom they had conspired. He was arrested as he planned to flee the country, police say.

"Police had been tracking him in the desert for about four hours and found him approaching one of the borders with his four-wheel-drive, and he was arrested," Maj Gen Al Hudaidi said.

He said all three men were unemployed and had been involved in other crimes before.

Police recovered all the stolen money (the amount was not specified) and the pistols used in the robbery. The case has been referred to public prosecution.

A witness in the Emarat store said two men parked their car at the supermarket's entrance and moved inside. One of the men drew a gun, the witness said, and the other man stood guard at the entrance. After taking the money from the store's safe, they got back in the car and drove away towards Dubai, the witness said.

ykakande@thenational.ae