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Suspect apprehended 9 minutes after robbery

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2002

It took police in the Mon Valley just nine minutes to nab a Monongahela man accused of robbing a Bentleyville store Tuesday night to support his alleged drug habit.

Bentleyville police last night charged Derek Jenkins, 21, of 26 Alice Ave., Monongahela, with robbery, aggravated assault and theft in connection with the armed robbery of Jet's Food Center on Main Street, Bentleyville.

Jenkins was arraigned before District Justice Curtis L. Thompson of Ellsworth and placed in the Washington County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond.

Bentleyville Police Lt. Mark Kavakich said Jenkins allegedly robbed Jet's Food Center at 7:29 p.m. by pointing a knife at the 16-year-old cashier and ordering her to empty the cash register. The robber fled the store with $670, police said.

Kavakich said he arrived at the store about a minute after the robbery, got a description of the suspect and suspect's white pickup truck from the victim and her mother. He said he relayed that information to all state and local police, asking them to check area roads for the truck.

RESA Police Chief Mark Stewart and Sgt. Paul Rock, who stationed themselves at the Speers exit of Interstate 70, eight miles away, spotted the pickup truck when it stopped at the Speers Hill Exxon.

Jenkins was using a pay phone at the convenience store when the police from RESA, which serves the towns of Roscoe, Elco, Stockdale and Allenport, detained him until Kavakich arrived on the scene.

Kavakich alleged in the affidavit that Jenkins admitted to robbing Jet's, as well as two other stores in Charleroi. He consented to a search of the vehicle and police found the money under a seat, Kavakich said.

According to Kavakich, Jenkins said he needed the money to support his abuse of OxyContin, a powerful narcotic.

Jenkins' girlfriend, Kami Grooms, 21, of California, Washington County, was a passenger in the truck, Kavakich said. The officer said she has not been charged, but police allege that the knife used in the robbery was found in Grooms' purse.

Kavakich credited the arrest to quick communications and cooperation with other police departments.

"The system worked to perfection," Kavakich said.

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