Suspects in Eau Claire gas station robberies linked to Rice Lake bank robbery

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire Police have been investigating three robberies at three different convenience stores over the last few weeks.

All of them happened at night, at Mega Holiday and Holiday stores across the city.

"Armed robberies are a significant crime that occurs and all available officers in the area certainly responded to the scene to find the suspect leaving the scene," said Lt. Derek Thomas with the Eau Claire Police Department.

On Wednesday, police got a break in the case. Three men were arrested after Sterling Bank was robbed mid-afternoon in Rice Lake.

Police had security cam video of what was believed to be the getaway car in the Eau Claire robberies, and it matched a car found near the scene in Rice Lake.

"We ultimately found out about the robbery in Rice Lake because of that information sharing we had with surrounding jurisdictions," he added.

Police arrested Jesse Sweeter, Ricky White and Kyle Langner. Eau Claire Police Lt. Derek Thomas says the suspects admitted to the robberies.

As to why the suspects chose these three Eau Claire gas stations and Sterling Bank in Rice Lake, Thomas says there may be a variety of reasons.

"Location certainly comes into play, a lot of different factors as far as traffic going in and out of convenience stores as well as the staffing inside the stores certainly come into play," he said. "None of this information has been definitive at this point but is just speculation to why they were targeting Holiday gas station stores," he said.

No charges have been filed. Lt. Thomas says the suspects admitted to robbing the stores. He says law enforcement believes the suspects may also be connected to other robberies in Chippewa and Sawyer counties earlier this year.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (EAU CLAIRE POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE) --On July 2, 2014 Eau Claire Police responded to armed robberies at the Holiday Gas Station, 2205 Eddy La, and at the Mega Holiday, 2308 E. Clairemont Av. On July 11, 2014 Eau Claire Police responded to a third armed robbery at the Mega Holiday, 2119 Cameron St. The investigation of these armed robberies by the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division identified similarities between these cases as well as armed robberies in other jurisdictions. By actively gathering evidence and following up on leads, the Eau Claire Detective Division identified a vehicle that was linked to these armed robberies. This information was shared with other regional law enforcement agencies in hopes of identifying the suspects and connecting other crimes in the region.
On July 16, 2014, the Rice Lake Police Department responded to a bank robbery in its jurisdiction and took Jesse G. Sweeter into custody with assistance of the Barron County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle that had been identified by Eau Claire Police Detectives was located near the scene of the bank robbery. Due to the proactive information sharing between law enforcement agencies, the Eau Claire Police Department was contacted and responded to Rice Lake.

Investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies worked collaboratively and identified two additional suspects, Ricky D. White and Kyle W. Langner, who were involved in the three armed robberies in the City of Eau Claire. Investigators obtained physical evidence, video surveillance footage, and admissions linking these three suspects to the City of Eau Claire robberies. Eau Claire Police Detectives believe there are no additional suspects involved in these three convenience store robberies. All three suspects are in custody related to these investigations.

These cases remain under investigation by the Eau Claire Police Department Detective Division. Anyone with additional information should contact Detective Sergeant Mark Pieper at 715-839-6217 or leave an anonymous tip by calling the Eau Claire Police Department Tipster Line at 715-839-4982 or Text ECPD and the tip to 847411 (TIP411).


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