Attempted robbery foiled by employees

Robbers leave local hardware store with nothing but handcuffs, jail time


A botched robbery attempt landed two Virginia residents in Moffat County Jail.

Gregory Tropea, 38, and Alice Askew, 43, of Hampton, Va., attempted to rob MJK Sales and Hardware about 10 a.m. Sunday but came up short.

According to MJK employee Robert Clayton, Tropea entered the store first and began looking around. He was followed by Askew, who entered looking for an odd light switch, one that doesn't even exist, Clayton said.

While an employee assisted Askew in her search, Tropea looked around before making his way to the office and the store safe.

Clayton said the robbery had been well thought out as the duo knew the exact location of the goods they wanted.

"It was pretty professionally planned out," Clayton said.

An off-duty employee realized what was happening and approached Tropea before he could remove anything from the safe. After deterring him from the office and safe, the quick-thinking employee alerted other employees, prompting Tropea to flee the building.

But he forgot two things.

The first was any money or goods from the store. The second was Askew, his girlfriend and accomplice. She was detained by employees of MJK until the Craig Police Department arrived on scene.

"Her boyfriend left her so she didn't have much choice," Clayton said. "They didn't physically tackle her or anything, but they let her know she wasn't going to leave."

After police arrived, Askew was found wearing a radio transceiver wired from her back to an earplug. This allowed Tropea to hear everything that was going on around her and vice-versa.

According to Lt. John Forgay, public information officer with the Craig Police Department, Tropea fled north on Colorado Highway 13 toward the Wyoming state line and was stopped in Baggs, Wyo., with assistance from the Wyoming State Patrol. He was returned to Craig and his vehicle, a blue truck with Virginia plates, was seized.

Askew and Tropea were arrested for second- and third-degree burglary. Further investigation determined Tropea also had a failure to appear warrant in Tennessee. Both suspects are being held in Moffat County Jail and the investigation is continuing to determine if the couple has been involved in similar crimes in other cities.

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