Crime & Courts

Police seeking links in two recent crimes using bomb threats

Wichita police are investigating whether an attempted robbery using the threat of explosive devices at a southside Wal-Mart could be linked to a convenience store robbery earlier in January that featured the use of a fake bomb.

Someone called the Wal-Mart at 501 E. Pawnee at 2:35 p.m. Thursday and told the employee to place cash in an envelope and carry it to a specific vehicle in the parking lot or bombs that had been placed throughout the store would be detonated, Lt. Doug Nolte said Friday.

The employee immediately called 911 and officers evacuated the store. Officers were also monitoring the parking lot and perimeter because “there might be someone in the vicinity trying to detonate” any devices, Nolte said.

No devices were found and no suspects were identified, he said.

A man pulled up to a gas pump at the QuikTrip at 5602 E. Harry at about 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 18, pressed the assistance button and told the clerk he needed help pumping gas because he was disabled, police have said. That location is at Harry and Edgemoor.

When the clerk went out to the gas pump, the suspect handed him a small box and told him it was a bomb that he would detonate if he didn’t cooperate. The robber then contacted another clerk inside the store and told him to bring cash to him or he would set off the bomb.

The robber left with the money, and the device turned out to be fake.

“We do want people to be very careful if they receive a call like this — to alert authorities, to take it seriously,” Nolte said. “We do not want something to happen where someone could get hurt.

“These are unique,” he said. “Whoever is behind these type of attempted robberies are using alternative methods to the standard hold-up.”