It took until the seventh bank robbery before police were able to slap handcuffs on a quartet of alleged teen robbers from the Greater Toronto Area.
By the time police picked them up following a hold up at a Royal Bank branch in Clarington, Ont. around noon on Wednesday, the teens had perfected their crime, which had grown increasingly violent over their two-month spree.
Their most savage hold up had happened earlier that day at a CIBC in east Toronto near the Scarborough Town Centre, where several people were injured.
"The bank teller got split wide open in the back of his head and it took seven staples to close it," said Staff Inspector Mike Earl of the Toronto Police Service's hold-up squad. "They were manhandling people: shoving their guns into the back of their heads, hitting them, pushing them."
The teller, a 25-year-old man, was taken to hospital along with a customer who was also injured.
Inspector Earl said the teens brandished replica handguns in all of their robberies and masked their faces with scarves, bandanas or sunglasses.
The quartet started off as a duo, he said: one teen would enter the bank, order patrons to the ground and go behind the counter to collect cash while the other would play the role of getaway driver. After two robberies in the first half of January, the pair allegedly recruited two others to help with the rest of their hold ups, which spanned January 29 to February 26. In total, the teens allegedly held up two banks in Clarington, one in Pickering and four in Toronto in the last two months. Two of the suspects, both 17, have been charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.
"There was no resistance whatsoever … There's no reason for the violence. These guys are just young, violent individuals that don't seem to have any fear or respect for the justice system, whatsoever," Inspector Earl said.
The teens all attend the same high school in Ajax and were known to police prior to their arrest, Inspector Earl said.
When they were arrested a few hours after their latest robbery, police say they confiscated two replica handguns, cocaine, marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cash from the robberies.
"I don't talk about the money," Inspector Earl said. "I know the banks may have a loss in this but I'm sure the banks aren't even concerned about the money loss as much as they are the violence on their customers and on their tellers."
The accused are an 18-year-old and a 17-year-old from Toronto, a 17-year-old from Ajax and a 17-year-old from Oshawa. They face a slew of charges ranging from armed robbery to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. They appeared in court Thursday for bail hearings, but Inspector Earl said he believed they were still in police custody.