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West Valley police seek burger-joint thieves

Originally ran here as:
"West Valley police seek burger-joint thieves"
by Laura Hancock and Pat Reavy, Staff Writers
The Deseret News
April 03, 2002

WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH -- Police continued their search Wednesday for two men who robbed a fast food restaurant and were chased into the parking lot and shot at by the eatery's owner.

The thieves wore blue scarfs and hats when they entered Crown Burger, 2684 S. 3200 West, through a back door about 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday, said West Valley Police Sgt. Brock Hudson. The door was left open by an employee emptying the trash.

One man was armed with a knife and the other with a gun, Hudson said. The duo robbed the owner in a backroom and took wallets and money from the 10 customers in the restaurant.

After they collected the money, the thieves ran into the parking lot where they attempted to carjack a man who was waiting for his girlfriend to get off work inside the restaurant, said Police Chief Alan Kerstein. During the attempted carjacking, the owner of the restaurant came out and fired several rounds at the duo, he said.

Whether the restaurant owner should have pursued the thieves or waited for police to handle the situation is a decision that could have gone either way, Kerstein said.

"That's really a personal choice for people who have guns and want to defend their property," he said, noting that what the owner did was not illegal. "We don't want to see violence. But we want the bad guys to know there are business owners who are legally armed, and if you're dumb enough to stick someone up, you do it at your own risk."

On the one hand, knowing that a business owner is armed may deter potential bandits, Kerstein said. But police officers are trained to observe their surroundings before firing their weapons so innocent by-standers are not injured, he said.

After being shot at, the men ran across the street and jumped into a dark-colored sports-utility vehicle and sped away, Hudson said. Investigators later found the abandoned vehicle several blocks away with blood on the passenger side door. Detectives looking for the duo have been checking local hospitals for anyone who has been treated recently for a gunshot wound.

"We've called all the hospitals," Brock Hudson said. "We haven't had any information there."

Many of the wallets taken from the restaurant were found inside the SUV, Hudson said.

A manager at the restaurant refused to comment Wednesday morning about the incident.

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